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12 February 2010
Google officials won't characterize the negotiations since the company threatened on Jan. 12 to shut down its Chinese search engine or leave the country altogether. Google's top lawyer, David Drummond, said "For their part, China has a dictatorship, the power to jail us all for life without a trial, and a stake in a competing search engine. But we also have negotiating strengths." He did not specify them.
Google's idealistic corporate motto has been, "Don't be evil." Personnel at headquarters here have been toying with changes that will accommodate the Chinese division. "Don't be evil, let your partners be evil" is a leading candidate, along with, "Don't ask, don't tell," especially as this motto is in disfavor with its current owner, the U.S. military.
A compromise may prove difficult because neither side can be seen as backing down. In China, a winner of negotiations gives the loser a way to "save face." Drummond said, "There are many ways out of this impasse. We could change our motto to 'Evil is Good,' and the Chinese could let Google users retrieve texts about how evil, and therefore how good, they are."