Under Its Threat, Google Would Abandon a Lucrative Market
SAN FRANCISCO — Google threatened on Tuesday to pull out of China after it learned of immense security attacks and attempts to gain access to the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists.
In addition, the 20 or so other companies that may also have been attacked, many of them American, are now in the difficult position of deciding whether to follow Google, whose business in China is small. While it has several hundred employees in China, Google lags far behind the home-grown search engine [Baidu]("http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/baiducom-inc/index.html?inline=nyt-org").
Duncan Clark, chairman of BDA, a consulting firm in Beijing that advises major telecommunications and technology companies, said many other multinational companies faced serious challenges in China. As nationalism and protectionism builds in China, he said, many technology companies have scaled back their ambitions there, particularly regarding content.
He cited recent crackdowns on Web sites and an attempt to force all PC makers to install software that censors the Internet.
“This has ramifications far beyond this case,” he said. “There have been a raft of decisions and unpredictability, a kind of unpleasantness about what’s happening here. There’s been this received wisdom that no one can afford not to be in China. But that is being questioned now.”