By China Watcher
Google Inc has just made a threat to pullout from China after hackers have accessed human rights activists’ e-mail accounts. In fact, the illegal retrieval of information was not the main discontentment from Google. The actual reason is that Google do not want to subscribe to Chinese censorship rules.
Chinese rules are meant for an orderly and consistent operation of a search engine and it is crafted to be compliance with domestic laws. Chinese laws are very clear and everyone knows that the forbidden topics which undermine the country’s security like discussion on Tibetan independence and the promotion of the banned spiritual movement, Falun Gong are not allowed. But why is there such a need to hold such discussion on Chinese domain? Isn’t the topics widely discussed outside of China of which most Chinese including overseas Chinese do not give so much prominence on this other than the Western media.
If Google’s latest strategic business plan cannot accommodate the domestic laws of the operating country, I would suggest they go away quietly and not make a fuss out of it.
China has over 350 million Web surfers which is still growing exponentially while its annual search revenue topped USD1 billion in 2009 and is expected to hit USD1.5 billion in 2010. This is a very huge and lucrative market and if Google do not want to play the right rules, the Chinese government should just allow them to leave.
Baidu and Sina, two Chinese owned companies, will obligingly complied with the rules but US companies like Microsoft and Yahoo somehow are doing so reluctantly as they have to respond to its hordes of interfering human rights organizations in its so-called “freedom” nation.
The Chinese government intention to keep pornography out of the hands of China's Youth, is a good move supported by parents and is in line with Asian traditions and customs to promote a healthy and caring society. And the West should not question the motive behind this worthwhile initiative.
Google Inc.'s pullout from China will not disrupt the country's Internet economy and its 30% share would easily be filled and shared between the few likely competitors like Baidu Inc, Netease.com Inc, Sohu.com Inc, and Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The threat by Google to pullout is seen as a ploy by the US based company to use this extra bargaining position in reaching an amicable agreement with the Chinese authorities on how to do so within the bounds of Chinese law. Should the Chinese government be accommodating the threat, more so from a US corporate, which has a reputation of overcharging its customers for its online advertisements?
I would also suggest that all Chinese technology companies who had tied-up with Google to quickly dissociate itself from depending too much on the US corporate who had turned out to be a human rights lover. SINA, one of China's largest Internet portals, will need to locate more trustworthy partners when it decided to sever its ties with Google.
Telecom operator China Mobile Ltd. (CHL) should consider developing its own smartphone processing system than relying on its collaboration with Google on the Android platform.
If Google realized its withdrawal threat within the next few days or months, the Chinese authorities should also seriously consider imposing a moratorium on Google, let say, for 3 years before allowing them back into the Chinese market if it intends to crawl back in the near future.