January 13, 2010

Google and China

Bravo, my employer has done the right thing in China and announced an end to the censored Chinese version of Google.

A Few Thoughts and Lots of Links

Commentators who interpret Google's policy change as a retreat in the face of stiff competition from Baidu miss the point. Despite serious obstacles, Google has steadily gained share after entering China in 2006, and there are a billion financial reasons to stay and compete.

So Why?

China is an impossibly contradictory place to try to do work as an internet business, and Google has been observing that in spades.

Yet still, the full extent of China's war against the Internet has suddenly exceeded all expectations: the frontal application of cyberwarfare techniques against foreign companies is appalling.

Last month Google and Adobe and 30 other international companies were hacked from sources in China who were trying to steal source code and break into email accounts of human rights activists both inside and outside China.

The Chinese Way?

Some argue that "China's way" is no worse than the West, but they are wrong. China's lawless behavior, its crackdowns on its own citizens, its hacking of foreign news outlets and banks and embassies, its abuse of Africa, sabotage of climate talks and Iran talks, irresponsible currency manipulation, its continuing cover-up of poisoned baby formula, mine accidents, toxic spills, Tibetan protests, and rapes - these are all signs of a fundmantal amorality in Chinese leadership.

China's reckless disregard of any boundaries reveals it as still the same nation that massacred hundreds of its own citizens on the streets on June 4, 1989.

Google is right to refuse to play a part in the continuing Chinese charade.

Experience Some Ironic Censorship

Google's blog post about the policy change has already been censored inside China.

To get a taste of how internet censorship works, visit baidu.com - the leading Chinese search engine, and then attempt to search for googleblog.blogspot.com where today's announcement from Google was posted. That page is now censored in China, so the Great Firewall will freeze you out of Baidu for a few minutes. Welcome to the Chinese Way.

More to Read

Good coverage from James Fallows, timeline from the Financial Times, Reuters, NYT, AP.

Secops at Google deserves recognition for catching the intrusion; previous efforts at tracking down Chinese cyberwarfarecan be found here and here.

Sincere best wishes to colleagues in Shanghai who will hopefully not face a situation like Rio Tinto executives.

Posted by David at January 13, 2010 04:34 AM
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