Google has received a letter from 27 of its ad partners in China claiming their businesses may fail if the search giant goes ahead with its threat to close its operations there. However, reports suggest the correspondence could be a fake, as some signatory companies appear unaware of its existence.
The letter, translated by the Wall Street Journal, claims Google has not communicated its position or offered suitable guidance to its local partners, and poses a number of questions regarding the potential effects on the market if it does indeed decide to withdraw.
“We have invested huge amounts of capital and efforts in our business. How will Google compensate for its resellers?” the letter asks, arguing that Google urged the companies to expand their staff and operations to meet growing advertiser demand. “If Google withdraws from China, how will workers be compensated? If the layoffs of these tens of thousands of employees cause any instability to China’s economy and society, Google should bear full responsibility,” it continues.
However, representatives from some of the 27 companies listed as signatories have questioned the authenticity of the letter, according to a report from Bloomberg. Gao Min, head of Google ad sales at Beijing Zoom Interactive Media Co. told Bloomberg News it was “likely a fake,” while the Shenzhen Winkee Networking Co. reportedly denied signing it. A sales representative there told the publication, “I have checked with the head of the company and other relevant officials and found out we haven’t sent or signed any such letter.”
In a statement e-mailed to ClickZ News this morning, a Google spokesperson said, “we received the letter and we’re reviewing it,” but added, “I’m not able to comment on the authenticity of the letter.”
Google threatened to withdraw its search product from the Chinese market in January, following what it described as “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack” on its systems originating from within China. The search giant said the attacks, which took place in December, targeted a number of Gmail accounts belonging to Chinese human rights activists in China, the U.S., and Europe.
The company threatened to withdraw from the market entirely if local authorities do not allow it to offer its search service and results uncensored. Since launching there in 2006, Google has been required by Chinese law to filter search results, specifically in relation to alleged human rights abuses, and events such as the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
You can follow Jack Marshall on Twitter at @JackMarshall.
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