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Google and China – Separating the Giants

Google Abandoned China

For the last few months, Google has been trying to decide what course of action to take in their downhill relationship with China. In the aftermath of government (China denies involvement) tampering of e-mail involving human rights activists and spying, Google (and apparently more than twenty other companies in the U.S.) was left feeling threatened and appalled at the audacity of Communist China in going to such lengths simply to have more control over their citizens.

China stats that this action is for the good of their people; most of us find it to be right up there with the denial of privacy and basic human rights. China’s spying and snooping and censorship of search results that the government feels are offensive – meaning they influence China’s people to have free thought and different opinions from that of the government- first led to Google’s refusal to continue censoring search results in that country in January and has left them feeling hurt, angered, betrayed and wondering what course of action to take from there.

Google’s China Exit

Google looks to leave China on April 10. This has not been an easy decision or easy process. Google owns a fair share of the search market in China and wants Chinese citizens to still have access to their products and services. A simple solution, at least for now, is the redirection of Chinese Google users to the Google Hong Kong, where they will get uncensored search results in the simplified Chinese language. Still, China’s government continues to insist that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement in their country. Considering the fact that human beings are not wired that way (try telling China that) and the way this completely goes against the very values that the American democracy is built on, Google deserves on very big pat on the back.

Business in China

The government in China has gotten the word out to Chinese businesses that have partnered with Google to be prepared for the withdrawal. Many of these businesses, in turn, have contacted Google, demanding communication and inquiring about their compensation when Google officially leaves the country. A this point Google is more than 99% sure that the split is imminent, though they have not made any official announcement as of yet.

The Moral High Road

Regardless of how it might affect commerce in China and the solutions that may have to be found to satisfy Google, their Chinese business partners and general Google users in that country, Google has made the right move. An American company rooted in American values and democracy taking the moral high road, standing up to China and walking away from their backward and oppressive ways?

Standing ovation, please? If Google is willing to walk away, will their reputation and example finally lead to a following of other American companies doing the same and giving China’s government a lesson in human rights that has been a long time coming?

Only time will tell, but for now, Google is leading the way. It’s a good place to start.

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