Though executives at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View surprised many people last week by releasing an announcement of their possible plan to leave China, the epicenter, Google’s offices in China, has remained largely silent since then. However, yesterday afternoon (Beijing Time) Google China released a short announcement on their official blog in Chinese to clarify some rumors:
To clarify some untruthful rumors
January 19, 2010 PM 06:03:00
Posted by: Yun Liu and Wenluo Yang
Over the past few days, we have seen a lot untrue rumors about Google China and Google’s employees: there are reports that we have closed the office in China, and there are some reports that we have employees in China who had recently been notified to leave their jobs. These [rumors] are all untruthful. Currently, Google employees in China are working in the offices as usual, to discuss product development and to communicate with [our] customers. Despite Google executives in the head office [in Mountain View] having recently announced that they will discuss some matters with the Chinese government in the next few weeks, Google China’s employees are still, as always, making an effort to provide our customers and partners with the best products and services, [since] customers and partners are very important to Google.
Though the announcement is too short and doesn’t haven’t enough information to rule out the possibility of quitting, I smell a slight discrepancy of opinions between Google China and its parent company in America (note the keywords I highlighted). At least the announcement shows that Google China still has confidence and commitment to the Chinese market, which was lacking in the announcement from Google Mountain View last week.
It’s too early to say what’s really inside Google executives’ mind and how they will play the game with the Chinese government. Who knows? Maybe they will only withdraw the localized search engine google.cn while keeping most other services, like Gmail, Google Map and Google Music in China? But one thing is for sure, that Google already put itself in an inconvenient if not awkward position in the forthcoming discussions with the government, since any compromise will be read as a betrayal to its “don’t do evil” ideology, from both Chinese and Western perspectives.