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Firms confirm Google letter phony

2010-03-19 09:22 BJT

By Deng Jingyin

Several of Google's advertising partners in China dismissed published reports that they dispatched a warning to the search engine giant that they would ask for compensation if the company decides to leave China.

The letter mentioned in the reports was published on the website of China Central Television (CCTV) Tuesday, and was later called fake, according to Feng Mingming of Shenzhen Winkee Networking, which was listed as one of the 27 signatories.

"I have confirmed with my boss and other colleagues that we never signed and sent out such a letter," she told the Global Times Thursday.

Gao Min at Beijing Zoom Interactive Media, which is in charge of Google's ad sales, also denied that his company signed a letter.

"I was told my company signed the letter, but we never did that. The report published on CCTV's website was deleted," Gao told the Global Times Thursday.

The letter on the website was not accessible Thursday.

The letter, addressed to John Liu, Google's vice president of sales in China, said the companies, all ads agents for Google, would ask Google to compensate them and their clients if it withdrew from China.

Google confirmed with the Global Times Thursday that they did receive the letter but refused to discuss the issue.

"Our company is reviewing the letter now," Wang Jinghong, a Google spokesman, told the Global Times Thursday without elaborating.

Isaac Mao, a former fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, told Bloomberg News that it was hard to believe that some-one organized such a large group of independent companies to come together.

It is the latest twist since Google threatened in January to withdraw from China and stop censoring content that the Chinese government deems unfit for the Internet.

Google's vice president Nicole Wong said last week that the company was "prepared" to leave the country.

An insider said on the Internet Thursday that Google would officially withdraw from China on April 10, when the company's license for Internet service operation expires.

The company did not confirm the claim so far. And no information about whether it is going to renew the license was available.

The Google incident raised concerns over the business environment for foreign companies in China.

The foreign investment environment will not be affected in China if Google pulls out, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Tuesday during a press conference.

"As to the impact of Google's possible retreat, it is only an individual business's action, which will not affect the investment environment in China," said Qin.

The spokesman added that even if Google quits, it would not change the fact that most foreign enterprises, including American ones, were operating well and making good profits in China.

Relevant Chinese government departments have enjoyed frequent exchanges with international Internet operators, said Qin.

"We emphasize that all businesses operating in China, whether they are domestic ones or from overseas, shall abide by Chinese laws."

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: Global Times