When Google issued its “Stop censoring us or we quit your country” announcement, it was a bold and unexpected move. So, how have the Chinese responded?
Never before has a major US corporation stood up to the potential moneypit that is China. Yes, everyone knows about the human rights violations and the restrictions of free speech, but when there’s so much potential profit to be made in China, the West has generally put all that to the back of their mind.
Now Google has said “Change or we’re out of here” it’s worth looking at the Chinese reaction. There hasn’t been a great deal yet, but here’s some of what’s out there.
Although there has been no official word from the Chinese government, an un-named official from China’s State Council Information Office has said in a phone interview reported by China Daily that the government has sought more details from Google about its announcement but that aside from that “It is still hard to say whether Google will quit China or not. Nobody knows.”.
Meanwhile, Google’s Chinese staff are in a state of confusion. The same China Daily report quotes an employee as saying “We were told that Google might quit China at a general meeting on Wednesday morning, and all of us feel very sad”. You’ve got to feel for them – being told your job is a pawn in a political game must be pretty crushing.
Elsewhere, a blog supposedly belonging to the chief architect of Chinese search engine giant Baidu criticised Google’s move. The BBC reports that the post said “What Google said makes me sick. If you are to quit for the sake of financial interest, then just say it.”
However, since then it appears the post in question has been removed with one in its place stating that his views are not those of Baidu as a company. Rough translation (ironically from Google) of the replacement post here.