Analyst: Google Still Censoring, Less Likely to Leave China

Google made plenty of noise with its January announcement that the company was “no longer willing to continue censoring” its Web search results in China at the behest of that country’s policies. But nearly two months later, the company has not followed through on the threat and is less likely to shut its Chinese site, according to a recent study by analysts at Piper Jaffray.

Searches done on ten “sensitive” keywords in the Mandarin language on, the company’s Chinese search site, yielded 52% fewer results than searches for the same keywords on the uncensored, English-language site, the analysts said in a research report on March 5. That confirms the censors are still in effect. And there may actually be a higher level of filtering on now than there was in January, when Piper Jaffray found 40% fewer search results on the censored search engine for the same ten keywords.

The likelihood that Google will shutter has diminished to 50% from 70%, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster writes in a research note.

The results of this study are line with reports that the company’s executives are in talks with Chinese officials, and are waiting to lift censorship in the country until the parties reach some resolution. Google employs hundreds of people in its Beijing offices, and some analysts take recent actions – such as looking to hire new workers there and introducing new mobile products – as signals that it intends to keep operating in the country to some capacity.

Still, it’s unclear how Google and China could reach a compromise, as the search giant remains resolute in its ultimatum. Google deputy general counsel Nicole Wong t Google vice president and deputy general counsel Nicole Wong told the US Senate Judiciary Committee on March 3 that the company is “firm in our decision that we will not censor our search results in China and we are working towards that end.”

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