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China readies for Google pullout

By John Pomfret

BEIJING -- The Chinese government on Tuesday appeared to set the foundation for Internet giant Google to pull out of China, with one spokesman contending that the company's potential departure would be an "individual business act" and another warning Google to obey Chinese law whether it leaves China or not.

The comments -- by the spokesmen for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce -- followed strong indications that Google, which has been locked in a dispute with the Chinese government over censorship, was preparing to leave China.

Chinese online advertisers are advising their clients to switch their accounts to Google's Chinese competitor, Baidu. And government officials from several ministries have privately predicted that Google soon would shut down its operations.

Shares of Google fell nearly 3 percent in regular trading Monday to close at $563.18, Reuters reported. Shares of Baidu, the No.1 search engine in China, rose 4.8 percent to $576.84.

Readhere for full story.

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 16, 2010; 2:08 PM ET
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