Googleless China looks just like China

Posted by Emory Kale

Google pulling out of China has caused quite a stir, although GoDaddy did the same thing and no one seemed to care. Apparently, no dissidents were freed in the making of this commercial.

In his Letter from China, Evan Osnos at The New Yorker writes:

"On the first morning in a world without Google, I discovered that there was, in fact, Google—or an impressively close cousin of it. Google would be based in Hong Kong now, and the experience of using it was more or less the same. Under the old Google, searches brought up only a limited view of reality: a list of Tiananmen Square-related tour options, say, but no mention of the 1989 military crackdown there. Under the new system, a search for political landmines—the three T’s, as they’re known: Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen—brings up an empty page. China’s digital filters, in other words, blocked them before the page could get back to me. Even this, however, does not feel like much of a surprise; as a foreigner living in China, one is already accustomed to tunnelling under the Chinese firewall with the help of a proxy server, a downloadable piece of software that carries a monthly fee."

Companies rarely take a stand when it comes to politics or human rights unless it is in the best interests of the business. Yeah, companies tend to care more about money than people. Shocking!

The Washington Post covered the story from another angle, and one that contradicts my opinion, which probably makes them right. From the Post:

"For its part, the Chinese government has looked at Google's threats with alarm, although publicly it has sought to appear unconcerned. Google's departure would mark the first time that a major corporation has left China since Levi Strauss pulled out in 1993 after alleging "pervasive" violations of human rights in the country. (It returned to China in 2008.)"

But, it also points out that Google's pull out is being seen in China as motivated by US government pressure.

"The United States has been weakened by the international financial crisis and its wars against terrorism so the U.S. has shifted its strategic center from the military to the Internet," said the People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party. "Google has become a tool of the U.S. to implement its Internet hegemony."

The Chinese government can play this thread out for a while and unless they have a proxy, most citizens are not going to be able to Google their way to the truth. It appears the news cycle is the only thing that got any lift from Google's pull out this week.