Foreign Policy Blogs

Google's Logic for Entering – and Leaving – China

logoIn researching the current kerfluffle with the attacks on Google, I came across some interesting testimony from company reps before the House International Relations Committee in 2006 regarding their entry into the Middle Kingdom. There was copious amounts of angsty hand-wringing there and in other public fora before the “Don’t Be Evil” team opened a censored version of their search engine in China that complies with Chinese law.

The logic runs that by providing superior access to information – and letting people know when results have been censored – that they were helping the ends of free access to the truth.

Well, they did it for a few years, captured a third of the market, and in the wake of the recent attacks on their systems ain’t gonna censor no more.

They haven’t left China – they are no longer following the law of the land. As such, they are daring China to kick them out. It could be a good PR move for them – and ties very directly into Hillary’s call for American companies to “brand” themselves as not permitting censorship. Google has certainly received plaudits from the international human rights community for it.

Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, has downplayed the importance of the move. Shocking. They even got some supportive quotes from Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer. Amusing.