China Power

Google Bites Back

China’s government plays the victim card as Google seeks to trump censorship rules.

A powerful government that may end up, in effect, forcing one of the world’s most recognized brands into exiting one of its markets, and a firm that could be ceding a potentially huge market to domestic competitors. Which one is the victim? The powerful government of course! At least according to three Xinhua News Agency writers who claim Google is pushing a political agenda, while trying to export its culture and values.

Setting aside the odd hypocrisy of hitting out at Google for ‘exporting its culture and values’ (I’d again point to Joshua Kurlantzick’s book ‘Charm Offensive’ which outlines in detail the many ways China’s government has tried to export its culture, including through the almost 300 Confucius Institutes around the globe), the writers make the odd accusation that the company is imposing its own yardsticks on Internet regulation.

If this were true, Google wouldn’t have had to agree in the first place to censor its searches. Those sympathetic to the Chinese government’s position have claimed that Google won’t be missed by Chinese Internet users. If this is the case they presumably won’t feel the need to crack down on the uncensored redirect of its searches to a portal in Hong Kong, which is Google’s latest move in the ongoing dispute.

Google is undoubtedly upping the stakes with its latest tactic, and it’s difficult to see what prospects the firm has in terms, for example, of Google phone sales in China. Still, it’s created an interesting situation—a firm being blasted over its values, when it’s apparently not putting its own financial interests first.