As Google moved out of China and started routing their .cn website through Hong Kong, Chinese authorities stepped in and blocked all the controversial search results, as expected
While Beijing hasn’t budged on the issue of self-censorship, Google remain committed to standing on their principles.
If you were wondering as to what was the connection between the hackings and Google’s result to not censor anymore. Here is an interview with David Drummond, the Google vice president
This attack, which was from China … was almost singularly focused on getting into Gmail accounts specifically of human rights activists, inside China or outside. They tried to do that through Google systems that thwarted them. On top of that, there were separate attacks, many of them, on individual Gmail users who were political activists inside and outside China. There were political aspects to this hacking attacks that were quite unusual.
That was distasteful to us. It seemed to us that this was all part of an overall system bent on suppressing expression, whether it was by controlling internet search results or trying to surveil activists. It is all part of the same repressive program, from our point of view. We felt that we were being part of that.
That was the direct connection with the hacking incident. It wasn’t in isolation. Since the Beijing Olympics, our experience in China has gotten worse. Although we have gained market share, it has become more and more difficult for us to operate there. Particularly when it comes to censorship. We have had to censor more. More and more pressure has been put on us. It has gotten appreciably worse — and ot just for us, for other internet companies too.
I feel that Google has taken a very bold step by standing up against excessive state interference, and they should be applauded for this. Google has certainly earned a lot of respect with its clear stand.
The only real loser in this battle is going to be China. While, Google will be hurt but it will be a lot less than what Beijing would suffer. Here is why I think so:
1. This move exposes China’s claims of openness as false and thus scaring away investors. This is very scary for a country so heavily depended on investment induced spending.
2. The China-US relations will suffer. Already, Dell is hinting at a China withdrawal. I don’t think that Washington wont take notice after all money is the sole motive of American interests.
3. If Beijing keeps scaring away international companies, their domestic market would be monopolized by Chinese firms. This isn’t wrong but with the kind of isolation in the mainland the internet in china would soon become like a Chinese intranet. This isn’t what a country which should thank globalization for its growth would want.
4. If Beijing doesn’t allow a free and open environment for firms to operate, there are a dozen other countries in the region who would be happy to fill in the gap. A case in point India.
And this is why I am so excited. With the continued stubbornness of Chinese rulers towards a free environment for businesses, most of the businesses will have to come to India. And that is the golden opportunity that we shouldn’t miss on.