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Google ponders split decision on China

Google appears close to deciding its future in China and might be eyeing a resolution that lets it stay in the country in some fashion even if it shuts down its search engine.

Google might be leaning toward a resolution in China that lets it stay in the country even if its shuts down its censored search engine.

That's according to The Wall Street Journal, which appears to float a trial balloon on behalf of the company by reporting Friday that "there will be a way for Google to not pull out 100 (percent)" if the Chinese government forces it to close an uncensored search engine. That could involve allowing sales, software development, and research operations to stay in the country even if goes dark.

After months of negotiations and dithering, it seems that Google is getting ready to make a decision about China in the near-term future. CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters at a media conference in Abu Dhabi earlier this week that a decision was coming "soon," which would put an end to speculation about Google's future in China following its January announcement that it no longer intended to censor search results in that country, and would consider leaving entirely.

It appears very unlikely that China will change its Internet censorship laws for Google. Government officials have consistently reminded Google and other Internet companies that they are subject to the laws of the country just like any other business, repeating those statements Friday.