China’s “New Approach” to Google: Bai-Bai
“We’re in this for the long haul. In the years to come, we’ll be making significant and growing investments in China. Our launch of google.cn, though filtered, is a necessary first step toward achieving a productive presence in a rapidly changing country that will be one of the world’s most important and dynamic for decades to come. To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it’s the best way to work toward the results we all desire.”
Whether it’s an act of moral bravery or the first step in a commercial retreat it had been planning anyway, Google’s “new approach to China” isn’t going to fly with that country’s government. Beijing clearly has no intention of granting Google’s request to allow unfiltered Internet searches.
“We must make truly improving our capacity to guide opinion on the Internet a major measure for protecting Internet security,” Wang Chen, director of China’s State Council Information Office, said Wednesday. Our country is at a crucial stage of reform and development, and this is a period of marked social conflicts….Properly guiding Internet opinion is a major measure for protecting Internet information security. Internet media must always make nurturing positive, progressive mainstream opinion an important duty.”
And then there was this remark from foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, offered up a regular ministry briefing: “China’s Internet is open. China welcomes international Internet enterprises to conduct business in China according to law.”
Chen and Yu didn’t mention Google (GOOG) by name, but their messages were clearly intended for the search giant. China has laws restricting content and if Google refuses to abide by them, well, there will be “far-reaching consequences”–as the company’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, recently called them.
“Far-reaching consequences” not for China, but for Google, which may now be forced to shut down Google.cn and potentially the rest of its China operations as well, ceding its claim to the world’s largest Internet market to Chinese rival Baidu.