China Pleads For Google's Verdict

A group of Google's advertising partners in China has sent a letter to the Web giant, saying it has waited weeks in "profound pain" for word on the company's plans since it announced it might withdraw from the country.

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

"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 a Google translation.

Google could not immediately be reached for comment, but a company representative told the Wall Street Journal that it had received the letter and that it 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 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 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."

However, the company is now "99.9 percent" certain that it will shut down, according to a recent Financial Times report.

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

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