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Behind Google's Recent Decision About China 155

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the wish-i-had-that-clout dept.
yuhong writes "This article by The Independent takes a look at what is behind the recent decisions made by Google regarding China, particularly regarding Sergey Brin, born in the USSR, [and whose origins] played a big part in this decision. From the article: 'He's always had an emotional tug within him, saying "we shouldn't be making compromises," says Ken Auletta, the author of Googled: The End of the World As We Know It.'"
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Behind Google's Recent Decision About China

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  • Well yes... but: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by saibot834 (1061528) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @09:55AM (#30932572) Homepage

    If only they would have stood up for free speech at the beginning, and not only after they found themselves with a disappointing 29% market share [wikipedia.org].

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:00AM (#30932618) Journal

    If only they would have stood up for free speech at the beginning, and not only after they found themselves with a disappointing 29% market share [wikipedia.org].

    Er, Baidu [wikipedia.org] had 1) been operating for seven years already when Google.cn was founded in China and 2) had the benefits of being a Chinese company that no doubt had leaders more in tune with Chinese culture.

    Pick a country foreign to you. Now give your competitors a seven year head start. Now try to enter the market. Now tell me that 29% is "disappointing." Has anyone come even close to that against Google in the US?

    I'd say 29% is pretty astonishing. What were you expecting?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:06AM (#30932680)

    That's not the point. Fighting an uphill battle and then at some point claiming to pull out due to freedom of speech issues isn't quite as believable as a world leader in search not entering a market due to freedom of speech issues.

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:12AM (#30932738) Homepage Journal

    The compromise that Google made with China was agreeing to Chinese censorship in exchange for China's protection from privacy invasion beyond that allowed by the laws Google agreed to follow. Then Google saw that protection was either useless against Chinese hackers, or betrayed by the Chinese government itself (or both).

    When you pay the mafia for "protection" but you get broken into anyway, you stop paying the mafia. If you can. We'll see whether Google is tougher than China's mafia government.

  • by OakDragon (885217) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:27AM (#30932854) Journal
    Thank you, that's an excellent response to all the China v. America doom-saying that's going on these days. Twenty years ago - and I am old enough to remember it first hand - it was Japan that was going to bury us. There are very good reasons that China's prospects look bleak rather than promising.
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:33AM (#30932910)

    If only they would have stood up for free speech at the beginning, and not only after they found themselves with a disappointing 29% market share.

    Microsoft would kill for a 29% market share of the search business in the USA.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:39AM (#30932978)
    Yep, this wasn't some moral decision. Google was perfectly happy to play ball with China until they stole some of Google's propriety code (and hence threatened their bottom line). If China had never threatened Google financially, they would happily have gone on turning over names and censoring the web indefinitely.
  • by Dorkmaster Flek (1013045) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:39AM (#30932984)

    particularly regarding Sergey Brin was born in the USSR which played a big part in this decision.

    Holy shit, can we please proofread summaries before submitting stories? How the hell did you people pass high school English?

  • by javilon (99157) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#30933016) Homepage

    On the other hand, Microsoft is quite happy collaborating with the Chinese government in clamping on freedom of expression.

    If only for that reason, you'll never catch me using bing.

    There are the moral reasons and also the fact that information about you can end up in the hands of Chinese officials. Of course the later is more important for the Chinese population living abroad and for companies competing against Chinese products (most of the big ones if not all)

  • by NeoSkandranon (515696) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:49AM (#30933120)

    Re: Baidu, It has less to do with "leaders in tune" and more to do with nationalism really.

    That google was able to establish the share they did in the face of being foreigners is astonishing indeed.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:58AM (#30933250) Journal

    It's scary to read all of the comments from people who have never lived under an actual oppressive government about how the US is just as bad as China ...

    It's not scary, it's the sign of a healthy system. If you have a population of over a million and no one is complaining about the leadership than something is terribly terribly wrong.

    I will always have comments to criticize my government with and I will decide how loudly I voice them. You are correct in asserting that China is worse on censorship than the US but that won't stop people from drawing analogies to prevent the equivocation from being complete. The fact that a North Korean or Iranian or Chinese citizen cannot get up and loudly voice criticisms (no matter how true/untrue) of their respective governments is what should scare you.

    I assure you that we know it's not as bad here but some of us feel that any mild form of censorship is horrible. And so you'll hear it from time to time and that's just a sign that the system that allows dissent is working. If I didn't have that to bitch about, trust me, I'd find something else. It was literally designed that way by our founding fathers and is the American Way*.

    *Note: I'm not saying it was started by or is exclusive to Americans, just that it's how we expect it to be.

  • by JohnFen (1641097) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @10:59AM (#30933256)

    I like using all their free stuff, and my Nexus One is the cat's pajamas.

    Nothing Google provides is for free. You pay for everything by exchanging access to your personal information for it.

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:00AM (#30933274) Homepage

    > they stole some of Google's propriety code

    I haven't seen anyone saying they did this. What they did was attack some of Google's customers, specifically some who work for human rights in China. Granted, since it was a hacking attempt at Google itself, they could probably have gone for code instead, but that's not what happened.

    China's reputation for industrial espionage may or may not be especially deserved. Their human rights record, however, there is little dispute of.

  • by jgardia (985157) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:08AM (#30933368)
    3 room means 1 kitchen, 1 living room and 1 bedroom.
  • Re:That's silly. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KarmaMB84 (743001) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:22AM (#30933524)
    If you have any size population, it is inevitable that someone doesn't like how things are being run since it's impossible to please everyone. If nobody is complaining there certainly is something wrong. They're probably just staying quiet for fear of punishment.
  • by roman_mir (125474) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:24AM (#30933576) Homepage Journal

    How am I a leftie? Because I point out some turd's hypocritical statements? I didn't realize that being a right-leaning libertarian made me a leftie. I'll make sure to make a note about that.

    - not a 'leftie', no, I wouldn't insult the normal people on 'the left' this way.

    I read the rest of it. His whole thing about Hong Kong ignores the fact that most people in the country were basically exploited wage slaves.

    - Hong Kong now has the closest system to free market economy in the world. Wage slaves live in the rest of the world, in the US it's credit slaves now, forget wages. Also it's Hong Kong, not mainland China. This is were people are doing business.

  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:36AM (#30933804) Homepage

    Google is controlled by two people: Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They together own about 59% of the voting rights for the company. (Over the next few years, they plan to reduce that to about 49%, but that will be de facto control as well.)

    This means that they can generally do what they want. They are not mindlessly piloted by the anonymous avarice of its shareholders.

  • by jbezorg (1263978) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:53AM (#30934160)

    AC:

    That's not the point. Fighting an uphill battle and then at some point claiming to pull out due to freedom of speech issues isn't quite as believable as a world leader in search not entering a market due to freedom of speech issues.

    From the article:

    Could Beijing really countenance a filter-free search engine? Probably not. But it also knows that driving Google from China would be a public relations catastrophe.

    I think Google entering the market and then leaving has a more profound effect since that 36% of the population will actually have a tangible experience to relate to. What may happen is that Google may be able to leverage this so that censorship is less restrictive on google.cn. and in order to compete Baidu would have to do the same.

    From the article:

    It was Schmidt who put the business case for Google to expand into China: with 384 million internet users, it is the world's biggest digital market – of which Google has grasped about 36 per cent since 2006. But Brin and Page spent a year weighing the pros and cons of the decision on what they called their "evil scale" before approving the launch of Google.cn.

    It's a pragmatic approach to "do no evil" rather than an idealistic one and in my opinion a better one since the idealistic approach would have made less progress or any progress at all.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @11:57AM (#30934248) Journal

    That's not the point. Fighting an uphill battle and then at some point claiming to pull out due to freedom of speech issues isn't quite as believable as a world leader in search not entering a market due to freedom of speech issues.

    It is exactly the opposite: claiming not to enter a market (where they would face an uphill battle to get even the tiniest marketshare) due to freedom of speech issues is much less believable than pulling out after achieving a very respectable 29%, after all the money and time invested to get to those 29%.

    And you were modded "insightful"? Mods must be smoking something powerful.

  • by zogger (617870) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:20PM (#30934714) Homepage Journal

    Since when didn't Japan take huge chunks of the US economy? When I first started to drive, it was really rare to see a japanese car, as in..nevah. Now? Who needed emergency bailouts again, to keep from going completely bankrupt? How about electronics? I remember when all the TVs,radios, HiFis, etc were predominantly US made, that's what you saw in the stores and in people's homes, with germany actually being second tier, then, Japanese electronics hit. Whammmo they hit. Now, how many US made TVs are there and so forth? Like zero? How about heavy equipment? We are the largest farm in this area, and just for tractors.lemme see here..we have one US made, john deere (and their smaller ones they sell are just rebadged yanmars AFAIK) *six* japanese (kubotas), three german or austrian (deutz and vetter) (that's just tractors, of course we have all sorts of other equipment, mixed as well) (and Indian mahindras are starting to sell pretty good around here now). How about motorcycles? Way back you saw some US and english bikes mostly, (harleys and triumphs mostly, with the odd bmw thrown in) Now? Rough guess, what I see is 7/8ths japanese bikes on the road, with china taking the dinky scooter market so far, but they will be expanding that. And so on

    Ya, it changes around, the main point from a US perspective to keep focused on isn't so much where stuff is sourced *from*, it is where it *ain't sourced from*, which is more and more daily the USA being the "ain't". We continue to lose manufacturing all across the industrial spectrum, which is value-added wealth creation that increases the internal economy to a large degree. And hand in hand with losing manufacturing over the last four decades now, the US government and economic overlords (same dudes in the revolving door wall street/DC government axis) have had to result to accounting tricks and issuing ever more stupid compounded IOU paper to give the appearance of prosperity.

    The number one US manufactured *thing* today is debt. Followed by advanced military weapons.....contemplate some outcomes there for awhile..

    You can only do that "debt manufacturing" for so long before good money stops being thrown at bad money. Eventually, the planet is going to call the US on its debt and just stop doing that. Interesting times then...

    This reserve currency deal, that came about from the Marshall Plan and the petrodollar phenomenon, has made accumulating all this debt possible, but it sure isn't going to last forever. You can't do this accumulate more debt than what you make on a smaller personal scale forever, as everyone knows, you'll go bankrupt and get bounced out on the street and your ride go away to the repo man, nor can you do it on a medium scale, nor even a huge large scale.

      The timeline varies on your bankruptcy and crash and repo man showing up, but not that outcome.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 28, 2010 @12:25PM (#30934804)

    actually, you pay when you buy the advertisers' products. marketing is a substantial position in many companies' budgets, and it certainly plays a role in price calculations.

  • by Evtim (1022085) on Thursday January 28, 2010 @04:56PM (#30940946)
    How about increasing survival chances by working in a group? The working country should provide for this fundamental human and animal behavior pattern.
    I don't get it - we have labeled basic aspects of the complicated collective behavior of an ordinary biological species (with all that implies) as "socialist" and we should avoid them at the cost of decreased chances for survival? I should hope not!

    BTW, I also lived exactly 16 years of my life in a communist totalitarian state, but I do not wish "to throw in the garbage the baby with the waters", as the old ladies in my country say.....

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