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When the Going Gets Tough…Google Leaves
[22 March 2010, Comments Off on Google’s China Blunder, Tags: , , , , ]

There was never a chance that the Chinese government would cave to Google’s demand that it end censorship of search results, as I argued when Google first announced its threat to leave China in January:

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Gambling for Free Speech, and Losing

GoogleGoogle’s decision yesterday to begin reviewing “the feasibility” of its business operations in China has reverberated around the world, particularly in the high tech sector. Responding to the hacking of its corporate network and the accounts of Chinese human rights activists, Google is threatening to leave the Chinese market entirely, and says it is no longer willing to censor its search results on Google.cn.

What is Google’s strategy here? And what happens next?

Google’s statement reads, to me, like pure frustration and anger, not strategy. Human rights advocates are heartened by this move, which suggests finally that Western countries can stand up to Chinese authorities; but the outcome of this mess is likely to be bad for Google’s corporate interests and detrimental to the goal of developing freedom of speech in China.

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