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Google vs. China: Is a graceful exit possible?

Google's likely exit from China is causing a bit of a ruckus---enough of one that you have to wonder how gracefully the search giant can bolt.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Special Report: Google-China Google's likely exit from China is causing a bit of a ruckus---enough of one that you have to wonder how gracefully the search giant can bolt. The latest comes via Reuters as a Chinese government spokesman said Google has to obey the law even if it retreats. When you check out the Reuters story, the bottom line appears to be that Google has to notify the government and then back out in phases. Reuters reports that Yao Jian, a spokesman for China's Ministry of Commerce, said Google shouldn't do anything abrupt, respect regulations and "appropriately handle remaining issues." China appears to be reminding Google (again) to make its exit graceful.

Those comments appear to indicate that Google is going to leave China, but the government wants it done in a way that saves diplomatic face. China can't have Google undermine investor confidence in the country---an outcome that's unlikely anyway. Google's calculus in exiting China is vastly different than other players. For instance, Microsoft can play ball with China on the Internet because the real return is getting government cooperation on software piracy.

In any case, the back and forth between China and Google indicates that the search giant is done with the country. In addition, the Guardian notes that Google hasn't re-registered as a content provider in China---a sure sign the company is checking out.

More: Assessing Google’s showdown with China

Google preps China exit

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