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Google vs China: to leave or not to leave

…Google’s threats on Tuesday to refer its spat with Chinese authorities to the World Trade Organisation…could be both bloody-minded and counter-productive. Any case based on discrimination would be unlikely to succeed, given that Chinese firms are typically subject to more rigorous control than non-Chinese. Besides, during a copyright action brought by the US against China that culminated last year, the WTO confirmed that censorship violated none of its rules. A similar verdict here would entrench China’s regime, rather than threaten it. If Google’s original aim was to force an admission of culpability, shake hands and move on, it has failed. Management may now consider that it has reached the point where following through would be less trouble than turning back. As Gavekal, a research boutique, has pointed out, a continued compromised presence in China could pose a risk to the greater profits Google…where growth depends on the absolute trust of consumers…