China warns Google's partners it could turn the heat on them

Posted by Emma Woollacott

China has told Google's partners in the country that they should have a backup plan in case Google shuts its services down.

They will have to conform with the country's draconian censorhip rules themselves, an official told the New York Times.  Websites that currently use the Google search box would need to filter results themselves, says the government.

While they could try using the main Google.com search page instead of the China-specific one, the government could block access to that too, as it has done in the past with other websites such as YouTube.

Otherwise, advertisers and others would have to switch to a rival search engine such as Baidu.

Google chief executive Eric Schmidt last week said he hoped to reach a resolution soon. But Google's made it clear that it won't compromise over censorship, and the Chinese government certainly doesn't look likely to. As a result, Google's China search page, google.cn, is likely to close very soon.

That's certainly the belief at China's state-run news agency, Xinhua,  where an article yesterday commented: "In the past, China's Internet developed very well without Google, and we can be sure that in the future, it will also develop in the same healthy way without Google."

Google is China's second most popular search engine, with about a third of the market. Domestic competitor Baidu leads with about 60 percent of the market.