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Mountain View silence induces 'extreme pain'

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Twenty-seven of Google's Chinese ad partners have asked the web giant to clarify its position in China, saying their businesses are suffering as Google mulls a possible exit from the country and urging the company to explain how they will be compensated if it does depart.

"We see our business volume declining dramatically, but feel powerless to stop it; and we see our employees leaving one after another, without being able to persuade them to stay," reads The Wall Street Journal's translation of the letter, which was later posted to the website of Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.

"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!"

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company has told The Journal that it has received the letter and is reviewing it.

In mid January, after alleged Chinese hackers nabbed unspecified intellectual property from the company's internal systems, Google told the world it had decided to no longer censor search results in the country, saying it would spend "the next few weeks" in discussions with the Chinese government to determine "the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all."

Google is apparently still in discussions with the Chinese, and though CEO Eric Schmidt said last week that the company had "no timetable" for the talks, he added that "something will happen" with the discussions "soon." Separately, Google has confirmed that its Chinese internet services license it set to expire at the end of the month, which could put pressure on the company to resolve the situation before then.

Schmidt has said that Google will not publicly disclose the progress of discussions with the government, and apparently, it's been tight-lipped with its ad agency partners as well. Monday's letter from agencies - sent to the head of Google's Chinese sales team - demands more insight into the situation.

"We understand that Google has its own values, but we cannot understand why, until this day, Google has not communicated with us how the matter will be solved, nor negotiated with us about a solution, especially when this involves tens of thousands of our customers, employees and investors’ interests," it reads.

"At this moment, if Google tells us this is a business practice, and our clients, employees, and investors all should take our own commercial risks, we, as well as our clients, employees, investors and everyone absolutely will refuse to accept it."

The letter goes on to say that "ten of thousands" of agency clients in China have pre-paid for Google's ad services, demanding to know how long it will take to refund this money if it shuts down its search engine or leaves the country entirely. It also demands to know how Google will compensate agency workers and investors.

Though the letter appears to be signed by all 27 of Google's ad agency partners in the country, some have since said they had no part in it. ®

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