Beijing, Mar. 19 (ANI): Internet search engine Google could cease operations in China by April 10, according to a Chinese newspaper.
The Times quoted an authorised Google spokesperson as saying that the departure date could be announced on Monday - a day after the company's staff are due to receive their annual year-end bonus.
"I have received information that Google will leave China on April 10, but this information has not at present been confirmed by Google," the Google spokesperson said.
Since the search engine's January announcement that it no longer wished to be under the pressure of the country's Internet restrictions, speculations have been rife as to when Google would pull out of China and which of its services would be affected.
China's online population is eager to know whether Gmail, Google Earth, its Chinese music search business and the popular Chinese version of its knowledge market site, Google Answers, will remain accessible after the closing of google.cn.
Last week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said he hoped to have an outcome soon from talks with Chinese officials on offering an uncensored google.cn search engine in the country.
However, the chances that Chinese authorities will agree to such a request are believed to be nil.
Meanwhile, Google has continued to filter google.cn results to abide by Chinese regulations but it said it if China did not permit it to cease the screening it would be forced to withdraw from the market.
However, its google.com search engine, which is hosted on an offshore server, is unlikely to be affected unless Chinese cyber censors decide to block the service.
Youtube, Facebook and Twitter are all blocked in China and the Great Firewall also prevents access to many other sites deemed to contain sensitive content. (ANI)