March 22, 2010

Google vs. China: Round II

googlecn

Earlier today, Google announced that it is shutting down Google.cn. (Uncensored) Chinese searches are currently being redirected to Google.com.hk as the Search/Ad Giant hopes to make good on its promise to not be evil by challenging the Chinese government’s policy of Internet censorship.

The Internet was seen as a catalyst for China being more integrated into the world. The fact that Google cannot exist in China clearly indicates that China’s path as a rising power is going in a direction different from what the world expected and what many Chinese were hoping for.

–Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet project at UC Berkeley
Google Shuts China Site in Dispute over Censorship, The New York Times, 3/23/2010

It’s a bold move that has been applauded by many, including myself: the Great Firewall was perhaps my only plaint about my recent stay in Beijing.

However, there are some who sympathize with the PRC, painting Google as the symbol of Western imperialism in the Information Age. I agree that American criticism is inherently biased toward freedom of speech—a constitutionally inalienable right that may still seem foreign to many native Chinese (though perhaps not to the 400m+ Chinese Internet users)—but I’m impressed that Google is willing to sacrifice profit for principle nonetheless.

UPDATE: G vs C on NYT Room for Debate Blog, a fascinating look at China’s internet culture, WSJ on how Brin was forced out and an older essay on the Chinese scholars’ reliance on Google Scholar via Nature.

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