According to China Business News, a Google China employee revealed April 10th as the day that Google will shutter Google.cn. The same employee also said that this news could be announced as soon as Monday.
This story has a few interesting subtexts, though.
Google has reportedly offered its Google.cn employees transfers to the Googleplex in Mountain View, CA or transfers to the Asia Pacific regional offices. This means that, as Bloomberg said, Google is not planning to completely shutter operations in China. Instead, Google’s apparently planning to keep everything but its search operations open. That apparently means that Android, Adwords, Adsense and other Google products will continue on in China.
The more interesting thing to note, however, is the mass denials that have emerged in the wake of a letter published on Chinese State TV’s website. The letter, which asked Google to clarify their position in China and draft policies for refunds to advertisers, was purportedly signed by Google’s 27 largest ad clients in China.
However, in the last few days, 22 of the 27 advertisers have denied signing the letter, and some have gone so far as to deny the letter’s veracity. Are the advertisers trying to cover their backsides? Were they truly framed as some have claimed? It’s tough to know for sure.
If the letter is indeed a forgery, it suggests that China is desperate to keep Google in the country without changing its policies. By forcing Google to think about the consequences of leaving the market, China could have been trying to make Google balk at finally leaving. We could know for sure if this gambit succeeded as soon as Monday.