China Business News reports that Google may plan to shut down its operations in China on April 10.
The report cited an unidentified Chinese sales agent for Google, but Google has not yet confirmed whether that is true.
Google will allegedly announce its decision on March 22, and has given its Chinese workforce the option of moving to its U.S. headquarters.
Discussions about a possible pull-out started when Google threatened to stop censuring search content, including Tibet and Tienanmen Square references, which China has banned from public knowledge. Tensions reached a breaking point in February when Chinese government programmers allegedly hacked into Google’s G-mail in an attempt to catch a Chinese activist.
Peter Lui, Google’s former financial controller for the Asia Pacific region, told Bloomberg that Google’s alleged decision to pull out has “burnt bridges” with its largest market in the world.
“There is no way Google can ever come back,” he said.
Google will likely survive without China. The question is whether China can rebuild a search engine as efficient as Google, and how its citizens will interpret Google’s decision.