Make no mistake: Google has a deep presence
in China. In a
country with 350 million Web users, its search engine controls nearly
one-third of the market. Government workers use Gmail
Chinese exporters depend on Google Translate
and, every day,
Chinese citizens explore Google Maps
. But now, all signs
suggest Google is closing its search
engine Google.cn (the announcement may come Monday). This will be the first time a major
corporation has pulled out out of China since 1993. On its face, the
company's departure is a protest against Chinese censorship. But many
have accused the search giant of cultural imperialism. Was Google's
China experiment worth it?
- Yes: Google at Least Got the Chinese Talking About Censorship, writes Rebecca McKinnon at
RConversation: "The 'Google China incident' - as many Chinese call it -
has greatly heightened awareness among normally apolitical Chinese
Internet users about the extent of Internet censorship in their country.
It has sparked a lot of debate and soul searching about the extent to
which their government is causing them to be isolated from the rest of
- No: Google Has Made a Big Mistake writes Tom Foremski at Silicon Valley
Watcher: "Google has demonstrated a shocking lack of historical
knowledge and lack of understanding of Chinese culture in its dealings
with the Chinese government. For a foreign organization to give the
Chinese government an ultimatum on changing its laws is like poking a
sharp stick into an old wound. Google should have Googled "Opium Wars"
before it issued its ultimatum. The British forced the Chinese to make
opium legal, which led to huge amounts of instability in Chinese
society, and resulted in two brutal wars, the second one included the
French. The Chinese government is concerned that without Internet
censorship, there will be instability in its society. Yet Google makes
those demands, angered by a 'sophisticated' hacker attack, and
brings up the issue of human rights when it was a non issue when it
entered the Chinese market."
- Yes: Google Has Set a Great Example, writes Tyler Waldman at The Towerlight:
"I’m no ethicist, and I don’t pretend to be one. But is the involvement
of American firms in this crazed system of censorship ethical? ...
Helping a government ... to lie to its own people is far from a noble
cause. American tech firms should follow Google’s lead."
- No: Google Is Now Seen as an Arm of the U.S. Government,
says Xu at Chinese Radio International: "As a
hi-tech company famous for its innovation, Google's deviation from the
principle that the business world has long been sticking to and its
politicized actions make people can't help but doubt whether the firm is
still doing business independently and what its backers really want...
No country will allow information about subversion, separation,
racialism and terrorism to circulate in it through the Internet.
Sovereignty and borders also exist in cyberspace, which will need to be
watched by each country's laws and regulations."
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