[The Economist, U.K.]



People's Daily, People's Republic of China

Google's Attempted 'Threat to Chinese Sovereignty'


In threatening to leave China due to censorship and hacking, is Google acting as an agent of the United States and a representative of American multinationals, who pose a threat to the sovereignty of all countries they operate in? That is the position of this article by columnist Li Hongmei of the state-run People's Daily.


By Li Hongmei



January 19, 2010


People's Republic of China - People's Daily - Original Article (English)

Google in China: Is the firm retreating due to a failure to penetrate, or is it censorship and government-backed hacking, as it suggests?


AL-JAZEERA NEWS VIDEO: Will Google quit China and is it putting ethics before business?, Jan. 16, 00:23:24RealVideo

Google, unlike exclusively commercial firms, long ago went public with its high-profile corporate motto, "Don't Be Evil." By this self-description, Google reveals its position as a multinational mature enough to leverage its monopoly in return for political interests; in other words, to put it charitably, to act as a social enterprise. That explains why, in an unusually conspicuous move, it has publicly announced that it might quit China, sparking a wave of reaction here and abroad, even competing with the massive earthquake in Haiti for media attention.


What are the reasons given by the Internet giant?: Chinese censorship and China-based cyber hacking. But with the initial confusion lifting, the real picture is slowly coming into view. One question keeps popping up. Is Google's explanation for leaving really what the company says and what some Western media claim? To put it another way, is Google really struggling to defend its moral standards, namely, a free press and an unfettered Internet?


Perhaps this high-pitched retreat is just a face-saving excuse to abandon operations in the country with the world's largest online population. Otherwise, Google would be condemned for ignoring a market of nearly 400 million Internet users that still has huge untapped potential.


To be frank, Google can't afford a failure against its main domestic rival, Baidu.com. According to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center, as of September 2009, Baidu's market share in China stood at 77.2 percent, far ahead of Google.cn's 12.7 percent. In addition, the majority of Google users in China use its global Web site, Google.com, as their primary method of accessing information. As a matter of fact, Google.cn's closure threat has little if any effect on Chinese users.



Back to China's Internet censorship, that, with Google's threat to leave, is being hyped by some Western media as a handy way to attack China. In fact, this is merely an elaborate excuse on the part of Google to flee the China market, lest it further frustrate investors and shareholders. For one thing, Google entered China after censorship began, not before. If Google can't put up with the "unfair restrictions" as it has stated, then why did it wait until now for a showdown? What's going on behind the scenes?


On top of its failure to dominate China's market as it expected, Google is engaging in this strategy of pressure on the mass of Chinese Netizens in order to have its leverage relayed through users to the Chinese government. And Google's timing is in tune with the reliability and credibility it has built up among Chinese Netizens. At present, it feels it has a bargaining chip for seeking compromise with China's government, as it is no longer a fledgling foreign company scraping its way into the world's largest market. Now it is a "grownup" anxious to take sides and flex its muscle.




Frankfurter Allgemeine, Germany: Stay or Go, Google Was Wise to Enter China


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Which side should it take? It won't take years for Google to decide, for the simple reason that as a representative of multinationals, the company is somewhat irreplaceable and will inevitably be tainted with a political and ideological brush. That explains why U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently summoned CEOs of some of the elite information companies to encourage them to contribute more to the United States, and intentionally inspire them to side with America, regardless of who they are and what their corporate culture is. For the sake of U.S. political interests and the "democracy-is-always-best" mantra, Google stands out for its "threat" against China as a sovereign state, even going so far as to challenge its judicial sovereignty, core interests and social system.


To some extent, the "Google threat" also sounds a warning bell to any sovereign state over which, from now on, huge U.S. multinationals would seek to wield their tremendous market clout. These firms pose such a threat anywhere they set up operations. And multinationals may also be involved in international disputes and act as tools perfectly suited for political interference.   



When Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency, he was asked, "What side would you take if democracy and freedom conflicted with the national interests of the United States?" Obama adamantly replied that he would choose U.S. interests.


Returning back at the famous Google motto, "Do No Evil," people may find this to be just a cunning but hypocritical promise. "Do No Evil" by no means demonstrates that you're doing good, and what's more, "good" or "evil" depend on whose shoes you are standing in.


But when all is said and done, business is business. Google is not Avatar; it will not soar into the sky by taming a giant bird and borrowing its wings. Google needs to be down to earth and face up to reality: Google can tame no one. If it wants to draw on the advantages of others to boost its own strength, it must adjust itself to the situation.


Otherwise, if Google insists on politicizing the situation, it would be hoisted by its own petard.


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Posted by WORLDMEETS.US, Jan. 19, 7:29pm


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