Does Google Have A Date To Pull The Plug In China?

BusinessWeek says they do:

The search engine may announce its exit on March 22, the Shanghai-based newspaper reported, citing an unidentified Google China employee. It may also reveal plans for its China workforce on the same day, according to the report.

The company hasn’t confirmed the April 10 date for its pullout, the newspaper cited the sales agent as saying. Tokyo- based spokeswoman for the company, Jessica Powell, declined to comment on the report.

One has to wonder is this is for real, a rumor with no facts behind it, or a negotiation tactic.  Whatever it is, it was good enough to convince BusinessWeek to run the story. Assuming that this is true, there’s no way back into China if they pull the plug:

A pullout by the U.S. company would mean it will probably be unable to return to the world’s biggest Internet market by users, Peter Lui, formerly the company’s financial controller for the Asia Pacific region, said in an interview.

The public manner in which Google announced its intention means it may have “burnt bridges and they’ve burnt the Google brand in China,” Lui, 45, said yesterday. “There is no way Google can ever come back.”

I’m kind of surprised that this wasn’t brought up earlier. I guess if you’re Microsoft or Yahoo and you want to make inroads into the Chinese market, that’s great news to you. But it would suck to be Google if they decided to change their mind later on.

I’ve put reminder in my copy of MS Outlook to check in on the 22nd to see if this is true. You might want to do the same.

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