Google announced this week that it would stop censoring search results under China's censorship policies and was considering abandoning the country altogether, after a series of expert cyber attacks on the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights advocates. The search giant said that it had launched Google.cn in China in January 2006 hoping to give the people of China greater access to online information, and would shut down rather than contribute to Beijing's efforts to curb free speech on the Web. Is Google powerful enough to get the Chinese government to bend its rules? (Watch an AP report about Google's threat against China)
Google probably can't win: Experts don't think Google can win "any concessions from Beijing censors," says V. Phani Kumar in Marketwatch. And while shutting down in China won't cost Google much revenue in the short term, it "may have a far-reaching effect on the company's overall long-term growth rate." China has the biggest Internet market in the world — measured by number of users — and online advertising there has nowhere to go but up.
"Google departure from China would have limited effect"
By clashing with China, Google has already won: This isn't about winning concessions from Beijing, says Sarah Lacy in TechCrunch. If Google really wanted to do that, it knows that publicly challenging China's government is a sure way to fail. The truth is that Google's business in China was not doing well enough to justify compromising its "do no evil" ethics any longer, so it's hoping to buy some goodwill from the rest of the world by burning its bridges in China.
"Google’s China stance: More about business than thwarting evil"
China and Google can still make up: This move is "gutsy," but puzzling, says Jack Shafer in Slate. Google knew about China's censorship and human rights record when it launched Google.cn. So maybe by "diplomatically" stating the problem and asking the bosses in Beijing to fix it — just as Conan O'Brien did with NBC — it's starting what will be a "face-saving scramble in China where the government announces that it's become partners in Web security with Google," and Google says it's satisfied that Beijing has addressed its concerns.
"Google pulls a Conan on China"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- 10 things you need to know today: November 22, 2014
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The myth of the stay-at-home dad
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
Subscribe to the Week