China warns Google partners: Look for backup

Web sites that use Google search services should seek alternatives in case Google goes through with its decision to stop censoring results, Beijing reportedly cautions.

Stephen Shankland Former Principal Writer
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
2 min read

The Chinese government has warned Google business partners to prepare for a day when they can't use Google services such as a search bar on their Web sites, according to a New York Times report Sunday.

Google has significant if not dominant share of the search market in China, but decided after a hacking attack that targeted human rights activists to cease censorship even if it means shutting down its Chinese operations.

If Google did shut down those services, business partners such as Sina.com.cn and Ganji.com that offer a Google-powered search box would have to either direct searchers to the main Google.com search page instead of the Chinese-specific Google.cn page; find a different partner; or filter the search results themselves to comply with Chinese regulations. Using the Google.com site isn't an easy workaround, since China and other governments can block access and indeed have done so with YouTube, Flickr, and other Web sites.

The Chinese warning illuminates the fact that the decisions by Google and the Chinese government have repercussions beyond those parties and people who use Google directly. Typically Google shares search-ad revenue with business partners who drive search traffic to Google.

A source told the Financial Times last week that Google is 99.9 percent certain it will shut down Google.cn, but there's more to Google than just its mainstay search operation.

Google also is considering ways to maintain some Chinese operations even if it shuts down the Google.cn search site. A resolution to the China situation is coming "soon," Google CEO Eric Schmidt said last week.