A friend sent me this today: http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/01/new-approach-to-china.html
I really hope google doesn’t withdraw from China. I hope google stays and engages, and causes a wide ranging debate within China. At least we know Chinese constitution protects people’s freedom of speech and many other freedoms. (What I heard is that Chinese constitution actually has the most full list of rights to protect.)
I hate to see all internet companies in China act like Baidu, which is probably the most shameless internet company in China. Many friends I know refuse to use search engine from Baidu. If you don’t know, Baidu’s search results are ordered according to how much money each website paid Baidu. And Baidu’s CEO called that a common international approach in an interview. Many friends also refuse to use Baidu Zhidao (which is equivalent to wikipedia). They prefer wikipedia even though it is much slower in China. Baidu Zhidao is often full of biased info and very misleading. Quite often, it is info someone copied full-text from some other sites. When we help other people with computers, we often switch their search engine from Baidu to Google (similarly, from ie to firefox or google chrome).
I suspect that google will take a bottom up approach. If this is something happening in the states (for example, if US government requested google to handout some user info, as it happened not long ago), google will take this to the people and challenge the government through media and court. But in China, I am afraid google will still use the top-down approach, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I doubt google will take this to media and court in China. If google can successfully persuade top government officials to understand that keeping Internet open is actually good for everyone and is vitally important for China’s continuous healthy development, that surely is a great thing. The other approach google can think of is public internet debate. At least in the recent history, public internet debates have worked several times in China in term of pushing policy change.
At least, if people in US stop buying stocks of Baidu and other Chinese internet companies who adopt similar shameful approaches, it would have a big impact. Or maybe US congress can pass a bill to forbid any internet company who censors information from being listed on US stock market. So there are things that American people can do on this.
At the very least, what we can do is that people in China refuse to use services from those companies who do the shameful practices, and that people in the states refuse to buy stocks of those companies and make money from it.
The last thing I want to see is that companies like Baidu become dominant in China, and internet becomes a segregated land. It is not good for China. It is also not good for the world.
Whatever google’s intention of announcing this on their official blog, if google leave China, it would be a very sad thing for China and for the world.