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China Warns Google To Obey Or Leave 533

Posted by Soulskill
from the who-wears-the-pants-in-this-family dept.
suraj.sun writes with this snippet from an Associated Press report: "China's top Internet regulator insisted Friday that Google must obey its laws or 'pay the consequences,' giving no sign of a possible compromise in their dispute over censorship and hacking. 'If you want to do something that disobeys Chinese law and regulations, you are unfriendly, you are irresponsible and you will have to pay the consequences,' Li Yizhong, the minister of Industry and Information Technology, said on the sidelines of China's annual legislature. ... 'Whether they leave or not is up to them,' Li said. 'But if they leave, China's Internet market is still going to develop.' ... Li insisted the government needs to censor Internet content to protect the rights of the country and its people. 'If there is information that harms stability or the people, of course we will have to block it,' he said."
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China Warns Google To Obey Or Leave

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  • Sure buddy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spazdor (902907) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:06PM (#31454794)

    Mr. Google:
    Before leaving, please deploy a transparent, ubiquitous distributed darknet app. I just know you're sitting on one.

    • Re:Sure buddy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:37PM (#31455236)

      They will stay... they are money whores just like everyone else.

  • Game of Chicken (Score:5, Interesting)

    by VoiceInTheDesert (1613565) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:07PM (#31454798)
    The question is will Google jump off the tracks before the China train hits them.

    I really don't know who would be more hurt by this. On one hand, Google provides huge resources to China, but on the other hand...google surely gets a lot of revenue from such a huge market.
    • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:18PM (#31454982) Homepage
      Well, it poses a Catch-22 for Google...

      In their first option, they can stand up to their philosophical beliefs --which is a VERY rare thing these days for any major company-- and keep up the fight. If they do this and win, they could start a intellectual and philosophical movement in China... If they lose, not only would they be kicked out and lose money, some of their people possibly could wind up in a Chinese prison (It is violating the law after all)...

      In their second option, they can bow to the pressure and keep censoring content in China. If they do this, they are sacrificing their philosophical beliefs for the almighty dollar... This would be a crushing blow to the anti-censorship movement (as one of its most powerful allies will have bowed to the pressure)...

      Finally, they could leave China altogether. This could have 2 paths. Either someone (MS with Bing?) would jump in their place right away and it would be like nothing ever happened (Which would also hurt the anti-censorship movement). Or, with luck, other companies that are not happy with the censorship will leave too. It could provide energy to the anti-censorship movement in China...

      So, to me, the best option would be #1. In all 3 cases, there is potential to harm the anti-censorship movement. But only the first case has a significant chance to REALLY help it. If Google REALLY wants to promote freedom of information, #1 is the only way to go (Again, IMHO)...
      • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Insightful)

        by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:24PM (#31455066)

        If they do this and win, they could start a intellectual and philosophical movement in China... If they lose, not only would they be kicked out and lose money, some of their people possibly could wind up in a Chinese prison (It is violating the law after all)...

        I'm pretty sure that if Google started an intellectual and philosophical movement in China that some of their people would definitely end up in a Chinese prison or worse.

        • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:31PM (#31455158) Homepage

          The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

          Sometimes it's worth it... Not always, but given the wide belief that censorship is wrong, if that's what it takes to start a revolution, then perhaps it's necessary...

          • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Insightful)

            by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:39PM (#31455278)

            The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

            Sometimes it's worth it... Not always, but given the wide belief that censorship is wrong, if that's what it takes to start a revolution, then perhaps it's necessary...

            I'm just not sure that Google, or we at /., should be the ones deciding that some of the Chinese people should start dying for this. I'm pretty sure that it should be their decision.

            • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:4, Interesting)

              by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:12PM (#31455754) Homepage
              It is their decision though, isn't it? The employees over there have every right to leave the company if they felt that it was doing the wrong course of action. I'm pretty sure that Google would probably pull out of China if all of a sudden 1/2 their senior staff up and quit (especially if they cited their anti-censorship behavior). So by that logic, it IS their decision already.

              But the difference here, is that we cannot know if their reason for not wanting to go against censorship is because they believe that censorship is right and moral, or they fear their government... And that's why the fight can't be just discarded as "it's not our fight" (At least by a someone who feels that censorship is morally wrong and goes against everyone's basic human rights)...
            • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:05PM (#31456500)

              I'm just not sure that Google, or we at /., should be the ones deciding that some of the Chinese people should start dying for this. I'm pretty sure that it should be their decision.

              Well, no matter what Google does, people dying isn't going to be Google's decision, /.'s decision, or their own. It's going to be the government's decision.

              Let's not get confused about who is pointing the guns and would be responsible for murders. If Google decides, "fuck this," all they're doing is deciding "fuck this," not killing people.

          • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:14PM (#31455804) Homepage

            Sometimes it's worth it... Not always, but given the wide belief that censorship is wrong, if that's what it takes to start a revolution, then perhaps it's necessary...

            It is always easy to say it is worth it when you are not the person going to jail or having your family threatened. I can agree that morally it would be worth it, but if I were in such a position I don't know what fraction of Slashdot readers (myself included) would actually do anything. It is really easy to talk about doing the right thing against an oppressive regime when you're elsewhere.

          • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:4, Insightful)

            by countertrolling (1585477) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:20PM (#31455860) Journal

            The belief that censorship is wrong is not very wide at all. The first amendment would have no chance of passing anywhere in today's world, including the US. That whole part of "no Law" is a real stickler. Despite the supreme court's weasel words stating otherwise. The majority, and especially the middle class is very authoritarian [newsweek.com]. Nobody wants to rock the boat during sweeps week.

      • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:36PM (#31455220)
        I would like to add only two things to your post, if I may:

        In their first option, they can stand up to their philosophical beliefs --which is a VERY rare thing these days for any major company-- and keep up the fight.

        Google isn't Chinese. Many would argue it's not their fight. It's a technological Vietnam War. Are they doing the right thing by not censoring their results? According to us, and our culture they may be, but not according to the host which has accepted them as a dinner guest. It's morally relative and looks a lot like a modern-day "The King and I".

        someone (MS with Bing?) would jump in their place right away and it would be like nothing ever happened

        Except it wouldn't be like nothing ever happened. Whoever jumps in their place gains an enormous market share, which would rattle the strength of Google at a shareholder level. Search engines are some of the shortest-lived giants our modern technology has bred. Google may be an unstoppable juggernaut today, but its family pedigree show us that adolescent heart attacks are the norm for its stock.

        • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Interesting)

          by ircmaxell (1117387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:00PM (#31455582) Homepage
          Well, you are right in that freedom is something that's part of our western culture. However, I think your comparison to the Vietnam War is somewhat lacking. In that war, we (the US and western countries) were fighting communism (or at least that was the proxy portion of the war). There's a BIG difference between fighting against a philosophical belief (Such as censorship is wrong) and fighting against a political system you think is wrong (even if it contains philosophical beliefs that you feel are wrong). This is directly fighting the belief, not the whole system. There are many different forms of government in the world today. Google isn't trying to say that "Anything but Democracy is wrong" (As we did in the Cold war), they are saying that this particular philosophical belief is wrong.

          The different culture argument I feel is weak. If it was part of a culture to kill anyone who started walking with their left foot first (instead of their right foot first), is that something that the rest of the world should overlook? If it's part of a culture to starve everyone except the ruling party, does that mean the rest of the world should overlook it? The fundamental issue at hand here is basic human rights. Those rights that are completely culture independent... That's where the moral line is drawn between "that's just their culture and we should respect it" and "what they are doing is wrong, and we should fight it". That line is different for every single person in every single country. The unanswered question at hand is whether or not freedom of information (not censored) is a fundamental human right. Personally, I believe that it is. I THINK that most of the intellectual world would agree with that statement (of course that's an assumption, but at least I am saying it as such). The unfortunate thing, is that not everyone will agree (obviously). So how do you make a determination on what to do? Do you always ignore a perceived problem because someone may not agree that it's actually a problem? Or do you pick and choose your battles to include only those problems that you not only feel morally justified fighting, but have the support of a lot of people around you? I, personally, would choose the second... Someone's got to fight for the rights of people that can't fight for themselves (Again, in my opinion)...
        • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:13PM (#31455778)

          According to us, and our culture they may be, but not according to the host which has accepted them as a dinner guest. It's morally relative and looks a lot like a modern-day "The King and I".

          The problem is you are comparing our culture to China's government, not China's culture. You may be right that China's culture says that censoring is the right thing to do. If China had a democracy, you could argue that its censorship rules reflected its culture (I would argue that you were wrong, but I would agree that you could make that case), but China does not have a government that even vaguely resembles a democracy, so the position of its government is not inherently a product of the culture of the majority of its people.
          Actually, another problem with your idea that anti-censorship is a reflection of Western culture is that a large number of Westerners would support censorship of certain content if they could be sure that it would be limited to content that they oppose (see University speech codes).

      • Re:Game of Chicken (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:46PM (#31455390)

        If they do this and win, they could start a intellectual and philosophical movement in China... ...It could provide energy to the anti-censorship movement in China...

        Tiananmen.

      • by TiggertheMad (556308) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:58PM (#31455554) Homepage Journal
        I am not sure that this is really about censorship. This is a staring contest.

        Google called China out as a pack of thieves and thugs by revealing their hacking and break-ins.

        Google made a statement that this was close to the 'last straw', and that they were thinking of leaving China.

        This is an attempt by China to try to out stare Google. The topic on the table isn't really the question of 'Will Google stay in China an stop filtering the internet'? By changing the focus of the debate, China is trying to recast the issue as China's laws vs. a foreign company who doesn't want to follow them.

        If Google leave under these terms, it doesn't look as bad for China.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        You're missing the point. While Google care about censorship what they are really upset about is the Chinese government's attacks on Google servers. If they stayed they would still be subject to these.
    • by hondo77 (324058)
      Google surely gets a lot of revenue from all the non-China markets, too. The question is: how much revenue is enough? I'm thinking that China and Google can become quite prosperous without each other.
    • by bigpat (158134) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:41PM (#31455300)

      How are the Chinese government officials going to find the objectionable content if they can't Google it?

  • Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:07PM (#31454804) Homepage

    Well Google should tell China they can deep throat it and choke. I'm all for companies having to comply with national and international laws, but censoring search results is NOT something they should comply with. I realize this gets into the grey area of "who are you to decide what's right and what's wrong", but still...government-sponsored censorship of search results? Nothing you could do or say could convince me that is a good idea.

    Information yearns to be free.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Brian Gordon (987471)

      Nothing you could do or say could convince me that is a good idea.

      It's not as simple as that. The Cuban embargo has stifled Cuba's growth and left it so that people don't have cell phones or internet at all. Standing up for Cubans' rights and refusing to deal with their government ultimately badly hurt common citizens.

      Providing search services to Chinese citizens and letting their government rewrite results as they see fit may be better than denying them search altogether. If Google pulls out, the Chinese w

      • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by headkase (533448) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:23PM (#31455046)
        From an inferior provider? GOOD. Let their country fall behind in information services while we surge ahead. I don't want a dictatorship having access to anything before we have fully deployed it. Hopefully with the theory that they do not remain competitive, when their people overthrow the Evil that is the Chinese government then license everything to them because they will deserve their seat at the table. Before then they are simply a bunch of thugs and I don't think we should be giving thugs brass-knuckles. Of course I have the freedom to say that here which is a major point for me.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Brian Gordon (987471)

          These are people we're talking about, not governments. You're only wishing harm on regular people.

          Also, "There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." --Isaac Asimov

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by headkase (533448)
            By making it barely tolerable you lengthen the time the current regime is in power. How many suffer? Over a shorter time now or forever into the future? We are in an ideological war with China, it is unacceptable that we even let ourselves get into this position but now that we are it is equally repugnant to take actions that prop up an obviously Evil, from my cultures training, abomination.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by profplump (309017)

        Did you miss that fact that the Cuban embargo itself is a form a censorship? In this case both the US and Cuban governments are in the wrong, and we should defy *both* of them.

        • Re:Oh really? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@noSPaM.hotmail.com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:56PM (#31455518) Homepage
          There are varying degrees of "wrong". The embargo was a drastic measure that merely failed to reach its goal; but a communist government is an unacceptable evil by its very existence.
          • Re:Oh really? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Pojut (1027544) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:13PM (#31455776) Homepage

            but a communist government is an unacceptable evil by its very existence.

            Communism, like many other unfortunate realities, is one of those things that makes perfect sense on paper...until you factor in human nature. Then it becomes a clusterfuck of epic proportions.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by jpmorgan (517966)

              No it doesn't. Communism, and specifically the command economy of communism, doesn't make sense on paper, except to the intellectually unsophisticated. Anybody with a good understanding of economics or even mathematics should be able to see the fundamental flaws in a command economy. On paper an economy is a glorified optimization problem, and communism is a shitty algorithm even theoretically.

              Why has China done well over the past 20 years? Because they've abandoned communist economics in favor of a governm

      • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak.eircom@net> on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:26PM (#31455090) Homepage Journal

        Providing search services to Chinese citizens and letting their government rewrite results as they see fit may be better than denying them search altogether.

        No, it isn't. No media at all is always is better than censored media. Censored media allows the censors to maintain control. Without any media, people are in fact freer to form their own opinions rather than having opinions supplied to them.

        It doesn't matter how you spin it. There is no justification for Google to participate in censorship of this kind when they don't actually have to. No excuse at all. Chinese people will lose a search engine, but that is not Google's fault; it is the fault of their government.

      • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Omega Hacker (6676) <omegaNO@SPAMomegacs.net> on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:28PM (#31455130)

        Except that the Cubans on average don't actually understand what they're missing. It's not as if they had Internet and cell phones and then suddenly lost them due to embargo. China's been using Google now about as long as the rest of us, and if they *lose* it due to very unmistakable censorship policies their government imposed, they can't possible miss the connection between the two. Try going without Google for a week now that you're used to having it instantly available, and you'll get pretty ticked. Lose it indefinitely due to the government's transparent attempts at censorship (whether you as a Chinese subj^H^H^H^Hcitizen believe in their justifications or not), and you're going to get royally pissed off. This is a good thing, in the large.

  • Sure... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kid Zero (4866) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:07PM (#31454812) Homepage Journal

    ..and if we want your data, we'll take it and you'll like it. Seems Google found someone more evil than them.

    • Re:Sure... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Z00L00K (682162) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:18PM (#31454960) Homepage

      Compared to most big companies Google isn't that bad.

      Compared to governments Google is a saint.

      But that doesn't mean that they are right every time. In some way I expect that if they have to leave they do leave behind as little as possible.

      What China should fear is instead the risk of having their connection to the rest of the internet cut off or at least limited.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by localman57 (1340533)
        I don't think that will ever happen. There's too many companies making too much money outsourcing from the West to China. Yet for some reason, they read the stories about Google and don't make the connection that the same thing is/could be happening to them.
  • Protecting rights (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:08PM (#31454814)
    "Protecting the rights of the country and its people", brought to you by the Ministry of Truth.
  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:08PM (#31454816)

    This will settle once and for all whether or not Google's motto represents true company ethics, or pandering. Go, Google! Set a true example for the modern corporate world to follow!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Unfortunately, this would mean that Bing would quickly try to take China and ignore ethics, etc. American corporations bow to the laws of China regardless of their beliefs for profit. After all, if you don't try to move into China, your competitor certainly will.

      I expect Microsoft to use this to their advantage bigtime. Do we really want MS to overtake Google because MS has less ethics? How is this fair at all?

      What I'd LOVE to see is laws passed that provide some kind of tax break or advantage f

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:08PM (#31454818) Homepage Journal

    regardless of google leaves or stays, american companies are going to suck up to china, and american government is going to do that too. maybe only there will be a few weak statements regarding the state of human rights in china. it will be business as usual :

    american companies are going to help chinese government in suppressing its own citizens for profit. american companies are going to help chinese government to do anything that conflicts with american constitution, and american ideals you people are so proud of.

    and you get worked up everytime someone points that out ....

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:17PM (#31454946)

      And European and Asian companies and countries don't suck up to China? Nice try at going after the US, but the fact is everyone is sucking up to China, even countries who are most threatened by China regionally and strategically, like Russia.

  • Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr&mac,com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:08PM (#31454824) Journal

    Li insisted the government needs to censor Internet content to protect the rights of the country and its people.

    Li is a lying little tyrannical thug. What he would say if he were an honest man, is that the Chinese government is scared to death of what might happen to the party minions when ordinary Chinese realize that Mao killed more of them than Tojo.

    -jcr

    • by unity100 (970058)

      did mao kill more than 10 million chinese ?

    • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:26PM (#31455100)

      Most educated Chinese are well aware, and really don't care that much about the Mao years. Same party, different leadership. American parallel: The Civil War killed more Americans than pretty much all other wars combined to date, since it was Americans vs Americans on American soil. At the time, Lincoln was in charge, and he was a Republican (which used to be the "good" party- Democrats and Republicans sorta swapped platforms in the 1960s as a result of the Civil Rights movement).

      So new boss, very different from the old boss. They don't give a fuck if the Chinese know about 6/4 or the Great Leap Forward. But stopping censorship would open up the floodgates of freedom of speech and criticism. Peasants don't know and don't care about history. They do know that the local party officials are corrupt, and that many of them are getting shafted. An uncensored, free internet would be a great way for them to learn more,share stories, and organize. It would be an amazing platform for the criticism of the communist party.

      It's not even the Central party they'd be criticizing; many Chinese adore Grandpa Hu and Grandpa Wen. The local party officials are another thing altogether, especially in rural areas.

      • Re:Bullshit. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by klenwell (960296) <klenwell@NospAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:14PM (#31455784) Homepage Journal

        Peasants don't know and don't care about history. They do know that the local party officials are corrupt, and that many of them are getting shafted. An uncensored, free internet would be a great way for them to learn more,share stories, and organize. It would be an amazing platform for the criticism of the communist party.

        On this subject, see the recent NY Times article about the Chinese "human search engine":

        China’s Cyberposse [nytimes.com]

        The article asserts that the internet is being leveraged by the central party for this very purpose.

        The article was a bit eye-opening for me for it showed:

        A) how most Chinese citizens' interest and usage of the internet differs from most American (less social networks, more B.B.S.-driven interaction)

        B) how the internet is a developing platform for reform in China

        C) how it can both be a platform for reform and yet still censored

        D) how it could accomplish all these things without Google and still satisfy most Chinese citizens

        I'm for Google standing up for principle. I'm not convinced how much impact it would really have.

  • Harms stability... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:09PM (#31454832)
    Anything that would promote a different party is harming stability right? I mean, we can't afford to change our dictator too often if we wish to preserve stability!
  • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:11PM (#31454852)

    Their government does not want the kind of "openness" and free exchange of information that is Google's trade. That is their prerogative. Google should pull out.

    They won't, of course. Too much money to be made there.

    They will cave in, compromise, and do (more) Evil.

    It'll be interesting to see how Google's PR monkeys spin it, from a front-row-seat-at-the-Fall-of-Civilization perspective...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032)

      Their government does not want the kind of "openness" and free exchange of information that is Google's trade.

      With you so far...

      That is their prerogative.

      but here I must disagree. The government doesn't own the country.

      -jcr

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:23PM (#31455040)

      Google planned to pull out from the beginning. They're just having a dick-waving contest with the Chinese government to justify it to stockholders. They're already getting fucked by Chinese government subsidized services like baidu. Say it with me now:

      As a foreigner, you cannot compete in China against a Chinese competitor.
      As a foreigner, you cannot compete in China against a Chinese competitor.
      As a foreigner, you cannot compete in China against a Chinese competitor.

      The Chinese government won't stand for it. The Chinese people won't stand for it. They will engage in espionage and then sabotage against you, as we've already seen. They will force you to obey laws that they ignore, as we've already seen. They will subsidize your opponent if you're from out of country, as we've already seen. It is, in fact, a losing battle.

      Don't get me wrong, I've got many good Chinese friends and dated a couple Chinese women, but I will never EVER do business in China. It's a losing proposition.

      • by wickerprints (1094741) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:29PM (#31456878)

        Parent post should be modded Insightful or Informative because seriously folks, it's so right on the money that I can't even begin to tell you all the ways in which it is true.

        It's not racism, either. I'm Chinese myself and I can tell you first-hand that the above is exactly why China is well on their way toward dominating the global economy. The rest of the world is too busy worrying about pissing them off because they're so greedy to compete in such a huge market, desperate for what scraps the government throws them. China is a trap--the modern-day economic equivalent of the Opium Wars, only this time the tables are turned.

  • Governments are the enemy of its people in all cases and in all nations. The highest form of patriotism to ones country is to constantly question, challenge and investigate all government officials in every nation, in every circumstance. Don't let secrets be held.

    • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:16PM (#31454932) Homepage

      Whoa there. Government itself is inherently sterile. Government can empower its citizens, or it can empower its leaders, but not both at the same time.

      The problem is that leaders always turn government so it empowers them, not us. Power-hungry leaders who run the government are the problem...the government itself only does what its leaders tell it to do.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by digitalunity (19107)

        The founders of the United States would disagree with you. The goal was to create a multi-branch government with equal power, such that each has the power to keep the other branches in check. Sadly, much of the power that was to sit with the legislative has been lost to the executive. Worse still, the judicial and more specifically the SCOTUS has been slow to intervene when the legislative or executive overstep their boundaries.

        I don't agree that any government is benign by default. This depends a lot on th

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Pojut (1027544)

          The founders of the United States would disagree with you. The goal was to create a multi-branch government with equal power, such that each has the power to keep the other branches in check. Sadly, much of the power that was to sit with the legislative has been lost to the executive. Worse still, the judicial and more specifically the SCOTUS has been slow to intervene when the legislative or executive overstep their boundaries.

          Which would work perfectly if there was no such thing as political parties. However, referring to people as Democrat or Republican or a third party instead of just American destroyed any hopes of a balanced government.

          I don't agree that any government is benign by default. This depends a lot on the goals of the government and what power the public has to make meaningful change to the government. In some ways, a republic is no longer serving the needs of the US. Direct democracy would lead to a lot of changes in policy that are bad for government but good for citizens. Initially it sounds like it would be mob rule, but sadly, I trust the good nature of citizens in general a lot more than I trust politicians.

          Government is just a tool. Whether the people weilding the tool use it to build or to demolish is up to them. Remember, a hammer can drive nails to hold up a wall...or it can knock them down.

          The politicians look out for #1: themselves and reelection. You vote for them because you trust that they will represent your opinions in legislation but it doesn't work.

          Not sure about other countries, but in my own (USA), this is because of the requirements to get into

    • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:40PM (#31455294) Journal

      Governments are the enemy of its people in all cases and in all nations.

      Wow, this is such a bad misconception that if you base your actions on this idea, you will end up doing weird things like flying a plane into a government building. Government isn't our enemy, it is our collective way of cooperating and getting things done. You should read the preamble to the constitution sometime, it tells the purpose of government. Then look at Somalia for a vivid example of why government is better than none. It's good there are no warlords in America.

      Instead think of government as a kind of servant. It exists to do our will. It is run by people, so it is not perfect, and you certainly need to watch it, otherwise it will start doing stuff you don't want it to do (government responds to people who pay attention to it: if the only people who pay attention are the ones that want special kickbacks, then it will respond mainly to them).

      Seriously, do you think Obama is your enemy? Do you think Harry Reid is your enemy? I don't agree with everything Obama does, but I generally feel he is trying to help the American people. Harry Reid is kind of a dud but calling him an enemy is a bit much. Even if you do a character analysis of Bush (whose policies I generally hated), read his speeches, look at his actions and try to figure out who he really is, it's hard to claim that he wasn't at least trying to help out the American people.

      There are some people in government who are enemies of the people, and these people should be identified and removed, but that is different than saying that government is the enemy. "Government is the enemy" is some kind of backward reactionist ideology. Instead view government as a tool: it can benefit or harm us, much like a hammer.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by roman_mir (125474)

        Obama is trying to help the American people? ORLY?

        Health care reform: he is against single payer and against public option. He is against people buying into Medicare from any age at cost (at cost of providing Medicare as insurance). He is against importation of cheaper drugs from other countries, like Canada. He allows insurance companies to raise premiums all they want, as long as they give him these ephemeral 90billion over 10 years, which they have already reclaimed through rising cost.

        Financial refo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by PitaBred (632671)

        Obama has supported secrecy in ACTA, supported renewing the PATRIOT act as it is, and given a free pass to the FBI on its abuse of NSL's, as well as failing to follow through on many of his most important promises of things like transparency in the government. He most certainly is an enemy of Americans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:15PM (#31454898)

    You bitch about China, but you continue to buy their wares. You let the U.S. go farther into debt and let China lend us more cash.

    Hypocrites.

    • by localman57 (1340533) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:26PM (#31455096)
      Damn straight. I hate those Hypocrites.

      --Sent From My iPhone
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Em Emalb (452530)

        What you did there, I see it.

        John Madden mode:

        As you can see, when localman57 said he responded via his iPhone, he was indicating sarcasm, because, as you may not know, the iPhone is made in China. It's a brilliant move by localman57, as you can sense he was being subtle...and then BOOM! right there, he brings the punchline. BOOM! ~sent from my iPhone. Right there. That's the line. Cause up until that point, you would just think he was agreeing with the anonymous coward. An anonymous coward is someon

  • by smooth wombat (796938) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:15PM (#31454906) Homepage Journal
    'If there is information that harms stability or the people, of course we will have to block it,' he said."

    Yes, wouldn't want the people to know about the corruption of your officials [msn.com]. That wouldn't be a good thing.

    I used the issue of China in my IT ethics class and said that having Google or Cisco leave China because they refuse to censor brings up a whole host of other issues. If Google leaves, are they taking their code and such with them? What about equipment they used? Are they scrubbing that before leaving? What about any documents pertaining to how their searches are done?

    While the Chinese people won't see much of a difference if Google leaves, the Chinese IT folks might have some issues recreating what was once there. Personally, Google should leave and post whatever information they want so people know what they had to deal with in China.

    As most asian countries have a cultural bias towards not losing stature, having their dirty laundry aired, the really dirty stuff, would be a mighty slap in the face which China won't be able to deny so easily. They'll deny it, but their words will ring hollow.
  • Hate to say it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:15PM (#31454910) Homepage
    As much as I hate to say it, China really has Google by the balls on this one. I'm sure there are a million companies with the right connections/deep enough pockets in China right now eagerly waiting to assume Google's spot on the hill and they are all willing to do whatever the government there says.

    I really don't see how Google can adhere to its corporate mission statement and continue to do business with China, although part of me has a hunch that we'll find out since shareholders will demand Google not leave one of the largest markets in the world.
  • Like China? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:16PM (#31454938)

    Anytime some dumbass talks about censoring for your own good, like Australia or New Zealand, people should use this quote. Like China?

  • by Orga (1720130) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:17PM (#31454942)
    Hillary has asked Al to go to China to recover Google and the internet he created from the hands of the evil dictatorship of the Chinese people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Starteck81 (917280)

      Hillary has asked Al to go to China to recover Google and the internet he created from the hands of the evil dictatorship of the Chinese people.

      I thought they were sending him over to turn off the internet and put China in internet time out until they can play nice and stop hacking everyone.

  • by unity100 (970058) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:18PM (#31454974) Homepage Journal

    i get the odd feeling that google will leave

  • That must be a specific kind of information that I'm not so familiar with. Sure thing, there are things you can *do* with information that can harm stability or people, but to blame information itself always strikes me as madness.

    It's like those people that say you cannot study homo-sexuality because the outcome could have severe consequences. By now we know that homo-sexuality does seem to imply physical manifestations. Personally I don't think that information has changed much in how we treat homo-sexual

  • Of course the censorship is a terrible thing. That's pretty much a given. But at least the government is sticking to their rules for all parties rather than bending them or making deals for 'influential' organizations.

  • China's leaders still live in a world of controlled information flow to the masses. This works well if the masses have to come to you for their information and culturally accept this form of government.

    The more Chinese that return home after being abroad and experiencing a free flow of information, the faster these policies will no longer be tolerated by the masses. Government will have to change with the times. But the change will have to come from within and it will take another generation or two.

    For n

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:30PM (#31455152)

    Any government that is afraid of its people having information

    (let's perhaps make an exception for specific information on how to make weapons of mass destruction
    out of common household ingredients)

    is inherently not a government "of the people for the people".

    It is not confident in its own popularity, or in the inherent stability through general agreement
    of its governmental system.

    Does the Chinese government not realize that their insistence on censorship simply
    highlights the inherent weakness in their government and system of government?

  • Li is Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:37PM (#31455240)

    Before I get modded troll, consider he does actually have a point. Openness and free exchange of information are serious threats to social stability in China (which is, as others have pointed out, what Google does best). China watched the fall of the Soviet Union as a result of glasnost and perestroika. They are eager to avoid the same mistake, as the costs of social instability (both human and economic) would be far too high, for the country, its people, and not least themselves.

    This isn't about Tiananmen or the Great Leap Forward, which are pretty much open secrets. It's about suppressing free flow of information, and maintaining control over all mediums of information exchange. They had control of the traditional media, phones, SMS, etc. The internet is another beast. Finding out and sharing information about corruption and other major shortfalls is far too easy with an open, uncensored internet. They don't want peasants knowing too much about local corruption, and when they do know, they don't want them to be able to organize or share this information. Censorship is a key component; allowing criticism of the government even on such now-unimportant bygones as the Great Leap Forward would potentially open the floodgates on new criticism on issues that could result in instability.

    So, Li is right. In order to suppress dissent, they must maintain control and continue censoring. Whether you think the cost imposed by censorship and lack of free speech is greater than the potential losses from any resulting social instability is another matter entirely. Many Chinese think, and I often agree, that while the Chinese government is too sensitive right now, maintaining a stable environment for economic growth is a bigger priority than free speech. The farmers I talked to in Shandong and Jilin also agreed- they know they're getting shafted in comparison to urban dwellers, but they're still doing better than at any time in history, and would rather not lose their chance at a new fridge, air conditioning, and a TV in return for some abstract ideas about freedom to criticize the government. In their minds, censorship and its evils are the lesser evil, when compared to potential civil strife.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NeutronCowboy (896098)

      I agree with your analysis of the situation on the ground. However, what I do need to point out is that there's an inherent short-sightedness in trading a fridge for the ability to hold your government accountable. Sure, things are peachy right now for the average Chinese. But the average Chinese does not exist, and the majority of the people who are better off mask the millions who are shafted or just plain killed because of a corrupt government. Not to mention that things like the Great Leap Forward and t

    • Well, God help us. Can't have any of that there "instability," eh? Gotta have it all nice and stable and nailed down. Yeah. That's what tyrannies thrive on.

      Here's a clue, Li, baby. The people don't exist to serve the state in the manner which the state, in its infinite wisdom, decides. It's supposed to be the converse. A true, thriving society is not about "stability."

      Could China's government be worse? Yes, it could be a lot worse, and it HAS BEEN a lot worse, in recent memory. But it's still an ug

    • Re:Li is Right. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by roman_mir (125474) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:46PM (#31456214) Homepage Journal

      You have your analysis backwards. The USSR was having massive economic problems, that lead to the situation, that was impossible to hide. The elephant in the room was that the USSR was failing economically, this could not be concealed, 'glasnost' (openness sort of) and 'perestroyka' (reconstruction/rebuilding) was resulting from the economic problems, not the other way around.

      The implementation of changes in the former USSR republics was flawed, but nobody knew how to deal with such things. Do you know how to change a huge country's political and economical systems and yet have stable economy in the process? I don't think anyone really can say they do. Besides, even if you do know it, what are your chances of implementing all of that in such an environment?

      China has done one thing right: keep the political system as is, but allow small and then medium and even large business to take over economy, (while of-course controlling stakes in those businesses). It's probably for the best for them. However it does not look like the Party is right when at this point when it comes to openness, human rights and such. The Party now is finding itself in a situation, where the economy can really move itself, the role of the Party is diminishing. That's why they want to keep control of the information - to keep control of power. They don't care about some ideas of overall stability, they just want stability for their own positions of power.

  • Information... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:50PM (#31455446) Homepage

    'If there is information that harms stability or the people, of course we will have to block it,'

    If information can harm the stability of you're country, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!!

  • by PalmKiller (174161) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:01PM (#31455592) Homepage
    Hopefully, that means that china will no longer be able to search for email addresses efficiently to spam.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PalmKiller (174161)
      Besides China at odds with Google's mission as stated on the http://www.google.com/intl/en/corporate/ [google.com] page: The name reflects the immense volume of information that exists, and the scope of Google's mission: to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
  • China has a terrible reputation as a global citizen. At times, they've flooded the market with shoddy goods made of questionable, even dangerous, materials. Their wholesale destruction of the environment is shocking, even to non-environmentalists. They manipulate their currency to make it impossible for importers to compete on an even basis. They have instigated what amounts to a low-level cyber war against businesses and governments the world over. They routinely muzzle speech and dissent within their own borders, and force those who do business with them to do the same. They reportedly have thousands of political prisoners, and every time they want to "make nice" with the West they trot out one or two of them and let them go home to show how kind-hearted they are.

    Personally, I've had just about all I care to take of such noxious behavior. I may not be able to completely avoid "Made in China", but there's no reason to encourage them. There are plenty of other people to buy goods from.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Un pobre guey (593801)
      Oh quit your pretentious whining. If you are a US citizen, you live in a country that incarcerates and executes far more people per capita than China, invades far more sovereign nations than China, killing, maiming, and rendering psychologically disturbed tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians per decade. The US also provides lavish funding to insurgents of various sorts to destabilize governments it finds offensive. We support right-wing authoritarian governments, including absolute monarchies
  • by Tetsujin (103070) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:14PM (#31455794) Homepage Journal

    All this stems from an incident several years back in which Li Yizhong was sent a link in a message online. When he clicked on it, and stared for a moment into the gaping void of a man's disproportionately stretched anus, he was forever changed... Determined to fight a never-ending battle against harmful information so that he would never again face that horror.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:31PM (#31456006)
    " Li insisted the government needs to censor Internet content to protect the rights of the country and its people."

    Censor to protect rights?

    Someone remind me why we're even dealing with these people? Oh yeah, wait. Lots of money. It's pretty amazing how some people fear "socialism" here in the U.S. but are perfectly willing to do business with communists.
  • by dwiget001 (1073738) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:37PM (#31456082)

    "...the government needs to censor Internet content to protect the rights of the country and its people."

    Uh huh.

    Maybe I am missing something, but since when were the rights of any country and its people protected by censorship?

    O.K., that is a bit rhetorical, I admit.

  • Oh my! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:00PM (#31457372) Homepage
    I'm so surprised! A sovereign nation with an authoritarian government insists that foreign companies abide by its laws! Who woulda thunk...

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." -- Karl, as he stepped behind the computer to reboot it, during a FAT

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