Chinese Internet Users Already Mourn Google

Flowers for a search engine

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    An etiquette girl is reflected on a big screen at the Google's 2008 Xian winter marketing forum on November 20, 2008 in Xian of Shaanxi Province, China.

    Google users in Beijing laid flowers on the Google logo outside its Chinese offices Wednesday, prematurely mourning the company's threatened exit from that country.

     Meanwhile, NBC's Foreign Desk reported the Chinese officials are considering a response to Google's accusations of state-backed hacking at the government's biweekly press briefing Thursday morning.

    This all comes a day after Google said it would ask China permission to offer uncensored search results to Chinese users.  If the offer was denied, Google would then pull out of China alltogether.

    Google laid down the ultimatum after it discovered multiple hack attacks against it and other Silicon Valley companies.  While the Chinese government has not been specifically blamed, most analysts assume it had some role.  In Google's case, many Gmail accounts belonging to democratic activists were also targeted.

    User data was not apparently compromised, though hackers did access some of Google's intellectual property on its corporate network, according to a blog post by Google executive Dave Girouard.

    The Chinese government recently accused Google of promoting pornography in its search results, a charge the company denied and that some executives characterized as an attempted smear campaign.

     Roseann Rife with Amnesty International praised Google's announcement: "It's a very positive step for Google to go public with the attacks that they're experiencing and also the concerns about censorship they have to operate under within China."

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement that Washington had been briefed by Google "on these allegations, which raise serious concerns and questions.  We look to the Chinese government for an explanation."

    Google has not had much luck in the Chinese market, leading TechCrunch's Sarah Lacy to speculate the ultimatum was more financial than ethical:

    I’ll give Google this much: They’re taking a bad situation and making something good out of it, both from a human and business point of view. I’m not saying human rights didn’t play into the decision, but this was as much about business.

    Also Wednesday,  Yahoo said it Google's threat.

    In a statement, Yahoo says it's "aligned" with Google's reaction to the hacking that originated within China.

     Yahoo, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., closed its offices in China in 2005 when it sold its business there to the Alibaba Group. As part of that deal, Yahoo retains a 39 percent stake in Alibaba that represents one of its most valuable assets.

    A Yahoo spokeswoman declined to say whether its solidarity with Google would cause the company to sell its Alibaba holdings.