The BBC released an article today titled “Google ‘may pull out of China after Gmail cyber attack’.”
With 350 million internet users in China (more than the entire population of the US), Google has had to face a big question of morality vs success. All media outlets in China are government run and an absurd amount of money is spent censoring anything deemed inappropriate for their population. I don’t mean to portray myself as an activist, but these include historical events such as the Invasion of Tibet and the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre. These Google search results are very different inside Chinese controlled territory.
A personal example, I was in China a few years ago and performed my own experiment. I searched Google images for Tiananmen Square and only two or three pages of results appeared. All the images displayed smiling tourists in front of the massive Mao Zedong portrait at the entrance of the Forbidden City. Take a look at the same search result in a free media society… Tiananmen Square. One of the most famous photos on the planet has been seen by only a handful of the Chinese population. And those who openly claim they know about this photo risk prosecution.
Even though Google could lose one of their most promising clients, it has decided to use this cyber attack to boost their humanitarian side. There has been an enormous amount of pressure from the international community for Google to uncensor their material or end operations in China. I find this a noble and responsible (and overdue) step for them to take. With China being a huge influence in today’s global economy, the international community should reflect how their own government and corporations do business with China. Is it at the cost of censoring history and education to over a billion people?
I would love to hear your thoughts. Do you believe Google is in the wrong for agreeing to censor material in China? How do you see this affecting future international business with China?