Google And China Wrestling Over Rights And Allowances

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News Posted: Tue, Jan 26 2010 2:18 PM
We've got a feeling that this issue won't be going away anytime soon. Shortly after Google made a sudden and an unexpected decision to potentially close its Chinese search engine portal if the Chinese government didn't stop forcing it to censor results, the search company is now in negotiations to maintain its other prescences in the country.

Described as in "delicate negotiations," Google is working with Chinese officials in order to maintain its research center in the country, despite the fact that Google has assured China that it will not continue to censor search results. The move has drawn the attention of just about everyone, from Bill Gates to execs within the White House. The good news is that most everyone outside of China is siding with Google's stance, and even China wants the assets that Google brings to the table (and in turn, the country of China).



Google currently has a research center (and employees, obviously), an advertising sales team and even a small mobile phone prescence in China. Google wants to continue those operations if China allows it to uncensor search results; China wants Google to work within its borders so it garners some of the benefits of having one of the world's most successful companies innovating in China. Google is also saying that it wants access to engineering talent with China, and many analysts are baffled at how all of this will end.

Whatever happens, this could be huge for advancement in free speech and net neutrality the world over. We're personally hoping that Google can convince China to loosen its grip on search results, and if anyone could sway the nation, it'd be Google.
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I was reading about this in the paper the other week, when the attacks happened.  Apparently, Google isn't the biggest search engine in China, Baidu is.  The Chinese don't really care much for google, but that could be because Baidu is government run, as with everything else.

I think Google is pushing it with this new move of theirs, but it doesn't seem like they really want to be in China anyway.  I mean sure, stick it to the man, but this could pose to be problematic for their future.

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rapid1 replied on Wed, Jan 27 2010 11:24 AM

The one thing is in China the general market as well as media and everything else is government controlled. So the information that anyone outside of China has is moderated information. Therefore; Google or any other source could say Google has a time machine through the web in China. We would either choose to believe or not, I would assume in this specific it would be not. However; this is just a point the actual specifics of this are basically what Google wants us to hear. The out coming stories from this are the same and or slanted in one direction or the other on both sides (by Google or China). So we will not know the truth until it is available on public record. I am not saying Google is doing good here, as I believe they are. I am just saying I am sure this story is way more complicated in many facets than it seems, with the sources of information speaking on it.

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gibbersome replied on Wed, Jan 27 2010 11:54 AM

Google's pullout will still be substantial. Baidu's marketshare currently holds at 58.4% while Google China is at 35.6% (and Baidu continues to lose ground). More importantly, the vast majority of China's students, professors, researchers, universities, as well as the educated class, upper class, use Google China. If there are a couple of segments of the population that can cause China trouble, it's the upper class and educated elite. Google's pullout will affect both. Also remember the services Google provides such as books, scholar, image search, maps, e-mail, etc.

And if Google does indeed decide to pullout, Baidu will be only major search engine left in China and will likely grab over 90% of the marketshare very quickly. Not a good prospect for most Chinese.

 

Source for Google's marketshare in China:

http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2010/01/14/4571863.htm

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rapid1 replied on Thu, Jan 28 2010 3:16 AM

Yeah very good observation gibbersome. The things Google brings to the table especially there (which no one else has anything close) are quite substantial. China still confuses me though in many ways. Every oriental person I have ever know has at least been of high average intelligence. No other country even the Soviet Union is really 100% communist anymore except the nuts who follow them (N.Korea). A free capitalistic society of that size could do so much. Anyway yeah Google leaving if it happens will be a big negative for them.

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Lol, that's a common misconception many people have. A select portion of Asians are able to make it to the US, and the vast majority of these are either from work visas or sponsored from relatives who came here and were successful in starting a business. So the segment of the Asian population that you will see here are mostly educated, hardworking business class.

When I looked up the numbers for Google China's marketshare, I was actually quite surprised. Until a few years ago, Google had barely a 10% share and was far behind Baidu. Their recent growth shows how popular Google is especially amongst China's students and youth.

Now I understand that the Chinese government is willing to renegotiate with Google, but I don't know exactly what they hope to achieve. The sense I got was that Google wouldn't settle for anything less than complete freedom. However, any step that would decrease the amount of censorship is in the right direction.

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mhenriday replied on Thu, Jan 28 2010 8:43 AM

Gibbersome, StatCounter's statistics (http://preview.tinyurl.com/yaqsj67 ) show a rather different story than the source you use ; according to the former Google completely dominated the search engine market until less than a year ago, when Baidu started began a very rapid rise to its present position in which it is seen to lead Google by about 10 percentage points. Given the discrepancies in the statistics reported by different sources, we can only confess to a lack of knowledge with regard to this issue. However, certain things *can* be established - censorship doesn't seem to have been the main issue here, as Google continues to gladly censor in such countries as India, Thailand, France,Germany, and Turkey, where the law of the land requires it (http://preview.tinyurl.com/y986xfn ). Nor, given the fact that despite all the one-sided speculation, it has been established that the Aurora attack came from China, much less the Chinese government, as Dan Goodin points out in his Register article (http://preview.tinyurl.com/yezdwro ), can that attack be the real motivation for Google's move. Thus rapid1's conclusion that this incident is «way more complicated in many facets than it seems» is justified ; I wonder if we shall ever know....

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ClemSnide replied on Thu, Jan 28 2010 10:07 AM

gibbersome:

If there are a couple of segments of the population that can cause China trouble, it's the upper class and educated elite.

Wait, China still has those? I thought the Cultural Revolution took care of those useless drains upon the worker.


"I didn't cry when Bambi's mother was shot... but I cried when HAL was turned off."

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mhenriday replied on Thu, Jan 28 2010 11:20 AM

«If there are a couple of segments of the population that can cause China trouble, it's the upper class and educated elite.» This, I submit, is a serious misreading of modern Chinese history, even if it may be flattering for those who consider themselves to belong to the «educated elite». But, of course, even among us sinologists, disagreement seems to be the rule rather than the exception....

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@mhenriday

Thanks for the alternate source. Inaccurate data coming out of China is nothing new (SARS being the most recent, glaring example of this).

I wasn't aware of Google's censorship in India, France and Germany. Especially the later two European countries is rather surprising considering their representative have been quick to denounce Chinese censorship laws in the past. I reread Google's original statement and it hows nothing to me of who actually did the attack. Human Rights groups were targeted, yes, but the attackers have not been linked with the government directly.

I agree with your assessment, this issue is too complicated to be discussed within the bounds of this forum, but it's good to understand different perspectives.

I'm sure Google is enjoying this positive PR nonetheless. People are quick to forget Google's inclination to snoop around in our emails and documents. And remember Google's CEO uttering these famous words just last month:

""If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place." http://www.dailytech.com/article.aspx?newsid=17069

Perhaps Google isn't the champion of human rights we would like it to be.

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mhenriday replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 7:29 AM

I confess to being an enthusiastic user of many Google products, which are often to my mind far superior to the alternatives available. But when any corporation - or any government, for that matter - poses as a «champion of human rights», it's time to start looking for goat hooves under the skirts. Human rights, to my mind, are something that civil societies demand of their respective governments - outside interference often leads to negative rather than positive consequences, in particular if that interference is, as it alas often tends to be, military in nature - the dead enjoy no human rights....

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mhenriday:

This, I submit, is a serious misreading of modern Chinese history, even if it may be flattering for those who consider themselves to belong to the «educated elite». But, of course, even among us sinologists, disagreement seems to be the rule rather than the exception....

Henri

I admit I did get that notion from an academic source so perhaps it was self-serving delusion on the author's part. While studying comparative politics in high school, my professor made the claim that in 5 years Russia would be flourishing because of its open markets and China will have collapsed, because it cannot control the forces of globalization within the confines of communism. It's almost 5 years later and things haven't gone exactly as he predicted.

While globalization is a double edged sword for China, they've somehow managed to reconcile the forces of open market capitalism and overbearing government control. I understand the horrors that Falon Gong practitioners and Tibetans have suffered at the hands of PRC, but China is an example of when  social change is not a prerequisite to economic boom. Similarly, citizens of Hong Kong fled to Western Canada when they feared a complete reworking of their social and economic system in 1997. No such dramatic change occurred.

 

mhenriday:

I confess to being an enthusiastic user of many Google products, which are often to my mind far superior to the alternatives available. But when any corporation - or any government, for that matter - poses as a «champion of human rights», it's time to start looking for goat hooves under the skirts. Human rights, to my mind, are something that civil societies demand of their respective governments - outside interference often leads to negative rather than positive consequences, in particular if that interference is, as it alas often tends to be, military in nature - the dead enjoy no human rights....

Henri 

 

Heh, very true. Perhaps it's time we stopped looking to institutions and governments to provide us our human rights. It's too often we give up freedoms for the sake of protection, this as true in out governments as in our technologies. Remember Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

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Soupstyle replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 5:44 PM

The chinese courts just ruled that it wasn't illegal to deep link to sites, even ones hosting illegal music files. This means that Baidu won't have any problem with keeping its users for the foreseeable future.

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caos420 replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 6:41 PM

Removed due to poor taste.

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Soupstyle replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 6:43 PM

Sort of racist...

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caos420 replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 7:01 PM

I wouldn't go that far.I happen to love general tsai's chicken.

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Inspector replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 7:04 PM

gibbersome:

"Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither."

So does that mean if  i sacrifice security for liberty i get both? lol

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caos420 replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 7:10 PM

Very interesting grasshopper.

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caos420 replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 7:16 PM

gibb is full of interesting wisdom.

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Soupstyle replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 8:02 PM

that doesn't make it any less racist caos.

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caos420 replied on Sat, Jan 30 2010 8:27 PM

I'm sorry, it was not my intention to sound racist.I hope i did not affend any chinese HH members and if i did i sincerely appoligize.

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rapid1 replied on Sun, Jan 31 2010 1:30 AM

Does there happen to be any new news on this issue I am interested as I heard China was imposing sanctions or something and wonder if it is connected.

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rapid1 replied on Sun, Jan 31 2010 1:59 AM

Yeah well I believe our government by definition is beyond repair the same two parties of individuals have been running this country almost since it's creation and one has the second came shortly after it though. Either way a choice of 2 candidates alone for anything called an election seems to be a total falsehood to me. I also think the same 2 running this country for this amount of time is a very large mistake. You can only choose the perceived lesser evil.

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Inspector replied on Sun, Jan 31 2010 2:06 AM

Soupstyle:

that doesn't make it any less racist caos.

i don't find that racist... :D. Indeed it is very interesting Wink

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