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A Chinese flag flutters outside Google's China headquarters in Beijing (Ng Han Guan)
A Chinese flag flutters outside Google's China headquarters in Beijing (Ng Han Guan)

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Google's rocky road into China Add to ...

Google Inc. has said it may pull out of China because it is no longer willing to accept censorship of its search results, in what would be a shock retreat from the world's largest Internet market by users.

Google's troubles in China are not unique and have affected other companies seeking a foothold in the huge Internet market.

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Here are some key developments in Google's bumpy foray into China:

2000 Google develops Chinese-language interface for its Google.com website.

2002 Google.com becomes temporarily unavailable to Chinese users, with interference from domestic competition suspected.

July 2005 Google hires ex-Microsoft executive Lee Kai Fu as head of Google China. Microsoft sues Google over the move, claiming Lee will inevitably disclose propriety information to Google. The two rivals reach a settlement on the suit over Lee in December.

Jan 2006 Google rolls out Google.cn, its China-based search page that censors search results in accordance with Chinese rules. Google says it made the trade-off to "make meaningful and positive contributions" to development in China while abiding by the country's strict censorship laws.

Aug 2008 Google launches free music downloads for users in China to better compete with market leader Baidu Inc.

March 2009 China blocks access to Google's YouTube video site.

June 2009 A Chinese official accuses Google of spreading obscene content over the Internet. The comments come a day after Google.com, Gmail and other Google online services became inaccessible to many users in China.

Sept 2009 Lee resigns as Google China head to start his own company. Google appoints sales chief John Liu to take over Lee's business and operational responsibilities.

Oct 2009 A group of Chinese authors accuses Google of violating copyrights with its digital library, with many threatening to sue.

Jan 2010 Google announces it is no longer willing to censor searches in China and may pull out of the country.

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