Chinese ad partners beg Google for information

Twenty-seven advertising partners in China also ask Google how they will be compensated if the company goes ahead with a threatened withdrawal.

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Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
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A group of Google's advertising partners in China has sent a letter to the Web giant, saying it has waited in "profound pain" for word on the company's plans ever since the announcement that it may withdraw from the country.

The letter, which was signed by 27 partners, was sent Monday via e-mail to John Liu, vice president of sales for greater China and was posted to the Web site of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. The letter states that the partners' businesses are at risk of failure and demands to know how they will be compensated if Google shuts down Google.cn.

"We understand that Google has its own values, but what we can't understand is why, up to today, Google has not had any communication or talks about future solutions with us at all," the letter said, according to Google's Translate service.

A Google representative said the company had received the letter and was reviewing it.

The letter comes at a time of heightened tension between Google and China. Google, which has a significant share of the search market in China, announced in January that it no longer intended to censor search results in that country and would consider leaving entirely. The company has been criticized in the past by privacy and human rights advocates for censoring search results deemed objectionable by the Chinese government.

Google has identified China as the source of attacks on prominent U.S. Web properties and e-mail accounts belonging to human rights activists, though it has not revealed the specific people behind them. For its part, the Chinese government has denied any involvement.

After months of negotiations over whether it can run Google.cn with or without restrictions, it seemed that Google was getting ready to make a decision in the near-term future. CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters at a media conference in Abu Dhabi earlier this month that a decision was coming "soon."

According to a Financial Times report last week, Google is now "99.9 percent" certain that it will shut down Google.cn.

The Chinese government has reportedly warned Google business partners to prepare for the day when they can't use Google services such as a search bar on their Web sites.