Google's Chinese partners request urgent clarification

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Google's Chinese partners request urgent clarification

But is the open letter real?

Twenty-seven Chinese companies that sell Google ads in the region have sent an open letter to the web giant asking it to clarify its future in the country, and demanding compensation if it decides to pull out.

In a translation of the letter by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the firms claim Google’s continued stand-off with the Chinese government is hurting their businesses, with investors and employees becomingly increasingly worried over their future.

The letter, sent to Google's China business operations executive John Liu, and posted on the China Central TV (CCTV) web site, said that Google was not doing enough to keep the firms informed.

"The only answers we get back from Google, and all that we can do, is to simply wait. Wait in extreme pain, full of uncertainty. Today, we just can’t continue this wait. We cannot wait any longer!" it said.

"We urge Google to immediately communicate with our representatives, at the same time offering solutions to our clients, employees and investors if Google will withdraw from China in the future."

In response to the letter Google issued a statement that read, "We have received the letter and are reviewing it", but declined to comment further.

However, doubts have been raised about the veracity of the letter after Bloomberg reported that advertising executives at two of the firms allegedly involved had denied any knowledge of the letter.

The newswire reported that the head of Google ad sales at Beijing Zoom Interactive Media had claimed he thought the letter was “likely a fake” as he was unaware of his firm's involvement.

In a further twist though, another firm listed on the letter contacted the WSJ directly, under the condition of anonymity, to confirm that its involvement with the letter was authentic.

The letter follows on from the reports in the WSJ on Monday that had sources close to the firm saying Google would make a final decision to pull out of China this week.

Speaking a press briefing in Beijing yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was quick to dismiss Google’s possible withdrawal from the country as merely an "individual business act" that had no bearing on others.

“This will not affect the investment environment of China or change the reality that most of the foreign companies, American included, have been doing well and making profits in China,” he said.

Qin also issued a subtle parting shot at Google, and a firm reminder of the country's hardline approach.

"Be it domestic companies or foreign firms, they should all respect China's laws and regulations when doing business in China," he said.

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