Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Why is Google leaving China (part 1)

XIAN, CHINA - NOVEMBER 20:  An etiquette girl ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
The decision by Google to leave China, after hackers had tried to enter email account from Chinese human rights activists is still very fresh, but our speakers are out in force to discuss the consequences. Was is all a carefully planned PR-move by Google, just waiting for the right moment to pull out? Or was this genuine moral indignation about a vicious act?
Jeremy Goldkorn notes in The Guardian that comments at Sina's microblogging service were largly in favor of Google's move:
Many Chinese internet users this morning have praised Google for its principled stand. The top trending topic on the Twitter-style microblogging service of Chinese portal Sina.com is "Google considers withdrawing from China". Based on a scroll through some of the more than 60,000 comments, the reactions seem overwhelmingly in support of Google.
Goldkorn is still eagerly waiting the fallout, he writes:
The fallout will be interesting. I can't recall a single case of a major international company with operations in China taking a stand like this. As someone who agreed with Google's reasoning when it entered China, I also support this move. If it cannot operate here in accordance with its global standards, it should leave. I have given up on getting my own website unblocked by the government and am resigned to the fact that it's only accessible to people who are outside China or know the technical tricks to get over the Great Firewall.
Kaiser Kuo points out to Reuters that Google was having more problems in China, that were not only caused by government action:
"There were a lot of problems that hamstrung Google, but not all of them had to do with Google being picked on by the Chinese government," said Kaiser Kuo, China Internet commentator and former director of digital strategy at Ogilvy China.
Shaun Rein is even harsher in his comments to AFP:
Shaun Rein, managing director of China Market Research Group in Shanghai, said Google might be using the cyberattacks as an excuse to exit China.

"I think Google is looking for a face-saving way to move out of China," Rein said.

"It hasn't done well in China -- Google in China has been a complete disaster compared with Baidu."
The debate will continue, so much is certain. Is the government going to act? Can it actually close down all Google sites? Or is it just going to ignore Google?

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Jeremy Goldkorn, Kaiser Kuo and Shaun Rein are all speakers at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need one of them - or all three - at your conference, do get in touch.
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