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Thu, Mar 18, 2010 - Page 10 News List

Chinese advertisers call on Google for compensation talks

FACING LOSSESChinese media reported yesterday that Google had sent a notice to clients saying that google.cn could close at the end of this month

AFP , BEIJING

A group of 27 Chinese advertising agencies have sent Google a letter calling for talks over compensation for possible business losses if the Internet giant pulls out of the country.

The letter, confirmed yesterday by Google and one of the agencies, complained that the US firm kept them in the dark about whether it plans to make good on a threat to leave China over censorship and cyber attacks.

The 27 advertising resellers said Google has had no consultations with them since it said in January it was considering pulling the plug on google.cn, its Chinese search engine.

A copy of the letter was posted on the Web site of state-run China Central Television (CCTV).

“The only thing we can do is to wait — in unbearable agony and anxiety,” the agencies said in the letter. “If Google tells us now that we, our clients, employees and investors have to bear the commercial risks of their business move ... we absolutely cannot accept it.”

An official with one of the agencies confirmed on condition of anonymity that the firm had signed the letter.

It was sent this week to John Liu (劉允), a Google vice president who oversees sales and business development for China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Google China spokeswoman Marsha Wang confirmed that the company had received the letter.

“We are reviewing it,” she said, declining to provide further details.

The firms called on Google to open “immediate negotiations” with them to discuss possible compensation.

“Many of us would face bankruptcy and close down because we have invested enormous funds and efforts to meet Google’s requirements,” they said.

They also warned the US company would be responsible for causing job losses of employees whose work was focused on Google.

“Google should bear full responsibility if tens of thousands of employees cause any problems for China’s economic and political stability,” they said.

The agencies said they may seek compensation for investments they made to ramp up their ability to handle Google’s business, for which they had not enjoyed commensurate returns, the letter said.

The agencies’ clients could in turn seek to reclaim payments made to Google for future advertising.

Google has threatened to leave China over what it said were cyber attacks aimed at its source code and the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.

The Financial Times reported at the weekend that Google was “99.9 percent” certain to abandon google.cn, citing an unnamed source.

Chinese media said yesterday that Google sent a notice to clients saying google.cn could close at the end of this month.

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