Google to phase out partnerships

Two
days after shutting its Chinese portal over censorship, Google Inc said it
plans to phase out deals to provide filtered search services to other online or
mobile firms in China.

It has already been shunned by at
least one of those partner firms and was attacked by a state newspaper after
pulling the plug on its mainland Chinese language portal Google.cn. It now
reroutes searches to an unfiltered Hong Kong site.

Google said it is not providing
direct access to censored searches, but will fulfil existing contracts with
other firms.

“We have over a dozen
syndication deals with partners in China. We obviously have contractual
obligations to them, which we want to honour,” a Singapore-based Google
spokeswoman said.

Google has already been taken off
the popular tom.com portal, owned by Li Ka-shing, a Hong Kong billionaire who
is one of the richest men in the world and has good ties to Beijing, according
to Bloomberg.

Many of Google’s often
well-educated, professional fan-base in China, who use the company’s software
for both work and play, said they were already suffering some fallout with
erratic service.

Several of Google’s international
search sites were failing to open, and when they could be accessed some users
found that all searches, including for non-sensitive terms like
“hello,” were returning blank pages or error messages.

Businesses, university students and
people in private homes reported intermittent problems on the main Google.com
site, the Google.co.uk site and Google.ca.

Google’s move has angered the
government, and on Wednesday an official Communist Party newspaper accused it
of colluding with U.S. spies, in China’s latest blast at the company.

“Google is not a virgin when
it comes to values. Its cooperation and collusion with the U.S. intelligence
and security agencies is well-known,” a front page commentary in the overseas
edition of the People’s Daily said.

“All this makes one wonder.
Thinking about the United States’ big efforts in recent years to engage in
Internet war, perhaps this could be an exploratory pre-dawn battle,” the
paper said.

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