Today’s biggest news is Google’s blog about stopping censoring its content on Google.cn, and considering quitting from China. I typically don’t comment immediately about any news, because often, I need more time to under the situation better (as I stated here). But for this topic, I have been thinking it for a long time. I know what I am going to say about this, when it happens.
The Nature of Google’s Choice
The dilemma Google faced is the dilemma every international international companies face, and every Chinese Internet companies face (although it is not often discussed or even thought about). Google’s choice, not as most media headline stated, was not to cease from China. Their choice is to stop censoring the Google.cn content, which may in turn lead to very high possibility to be forced to shutdown in China. Although these two events are connected, but they are very different.
Now the ball is at the Chinese authority’s hand: Google made a clear statement, and the ball is no longer at Google’s hand – it is the government’s turn to make the tough decision (although I believe it won’t be too hard for them to make) to drive Google away.
It sounds like suicide, but stopping censor itself is different than killing the business – it just gives the gun to another party. It is not “kill himself”, it is “has himself killed”.
What is the Right Thing to Do
There are many debate about whether Google is doing the right thing, or acted as stupid, and naive as a boy. Different people have different principles to judge what is right. Thanks Xiaolai to share the wonderful Harvard course on justice: What is the right thing to do. Hope by watching that movie, we get some inspiration about the answer. It is a vivid case that people will continue to study for many years, I guess.
P.S. Do a Flickr search for Google China and order by time these days, to discover what is happening outside Google office:
Photograph credit: Qifei