From China’s perspective, Google is a law-breaker. The simmering dispute over internet privacy and censorship became more heated as China issued its a strong threat:

“The Chinese government threw down a direct public challenge to Google on Friday as negotiations over the company’s future in the country came to a head, with a warning that it was not prepared to compromise on internet censorship to stop the company leaving.

“If [Google] takes steps that violate Chinese laws, that would be unfriendly, that would be irresponsible, and they would have to bear the consequences,” said Li Yizhong, minister for industry and information technology.”

link: Beijing throws down challenge to Google

Google finds itself in the unenviable position of confrontation with a foreign government. Google is in a “no win” position. If the technology giant acquiesces to China’s censorship policies, it will be pilloried for not supporting the freedoms of millions of Chinese internet users. On the other hand, if Google pulls out of China and leave that marketplace, it is leaving a small fortune in annual revenue. The stakeholders of Google will not benefit from a growing internet user base in China.

For Google, the decision may be based on which decision has the least long term damage.

Catherine Forsythe