Nearly a Month After Debut, Google’s “New” Approach to China Still a Lot Like the Old One
Explaining Google’s “new approach” to China in a January 12 blog post, chief legal officer David Drummond wrote:
“We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.”
A dramatic announcement given that the Chinese government’s policy requires the company to remove certain sensitive information from its search results in order to have a presence in the country. Yet nearly a month after it was made, Google (GOOG) continues to censor search results in China, and it has said nothing about its efforts to reach a compromise with Beijing.
What’s taking so long?
Drummond’s statement–“We are no longer willing to continue censoring our results…”–was about as definitive as they come. But is Google following through or not?
Asked for an update on its discussions with the Chinese government and the future of its operations in the country, a Google spokesman told me the company doesn’t have any new information to provide.
“Our blog post announcing the matter remains our current statement of record on the issue,” he told me.
Yes, but since publication of that post, Google seems to have adopted a more amicable stance on the matter. During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference in January, CEO Eric Schmidt said Google was committed to retaining its presence in China.
“We wish to remain in China,” Schmidt said. “We like the Chinese people, we like our Chinese employees, we like the business opportunities there. We’d like to do that on somewhat different terms than we have, but we remain quite committed to being there.”
Of course Google is.
China is the world’s largest Internet market. But in order to operate in China, foreign businesses must abide by laws restricting Internet content, and Google has said publicly that it will no longer do so.
Again, Drummond’s words: “We are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn…”
If that’s truly the case and Drummond’s blog post remains Google’s current statement of record on China, why are censored results still appearing on Google.cn? Is the moral high ground the company claimed a month ago proving just a bit too high?