WEDNESDAY 13 JAN 2010 4:47 PM


Internet giant Google has threatened to take a stand against China’s Draconian internet policy, in a move that may enhance its corporate reputation at the expense of immediate profit.

The company said it may end its operations in China following a "sophisticated and targeted" cyber attack originating from the country and aimed at the accounts of known human rights activists.

The company did not accuse the Chinese government directly, but said it was no longer willing to censor its Chinese search engine,

UK communicators have labelled the move “brave”.

“Google's potential closure of its Chinese operations is a clear case of a brand placing its corporate integrity ahead of its bottom line,” said Alex MacLaverty, MD Technology for Hotwire. “The Chinese market is incredibly attractive to all commercial organisations and for a technological behemoth such as Google to withdraw its services from a potential 1 billion consumers would be an incredibly brave move. Any possible exit would send out a clear message that it is unwilling to allow any external force to jeopardise its corporate reputation. Corporate reputation can be a company's greatest asset, so Google is right to be assessing its options in this market. ”

Chris Whitelaw, president of specialist digital marketing agency I Spy Marketing, said that Google’s stance represented a departure but questioned the motives behind it.

“Until now, Google had required a foothold in the Chinese market more than it needed its creed of ‘Don’t be Evil’ when it came to censorship of search results in China. This stance appears to be changing,” he said. “The real question is whether Google is simply playing politics, making a commercial decision or trying to be less evil on the sensitive censorship issue.”