What more can be said of this Google-China feud? Google wants to run its local search engine, google.cn, there without having to deal with Chinese censorship. China is like, really? Why should we give a damn what you want, Google? Google phones have been delayed, bitter words have been exchanged, and now Google’s other, non-search activities in China may be threatened by its saber-rattling, to use a metaphor that’s not really relevant. Here’s a new one: Google v. China could be seen as yet another chapter in the expected United States of America v. China feud, one that could determine which country will be the top dog this century.
The basic gist of it is this: China doesn’t play games with anyone. Yes, its paramount interest is making money, but you’ll have no luck trying to change its human rights record, or, say, how it deals with censorship. So if you’re someone like Google, you have two options: run in China (and make money within the system that’s currently in place), or try to make a stand and demand that China change its ways while trying to argue that a free and open China is in everyone’s best interests (plus, you can sell more ads on unrestricted searches). So far, China’s reaction seems to be, “Dear Google. Thank you for your concern. Play by the rules or get out. Toodles!”
Is that an oversimplification? Maybe, but that’s the gist of it.
And really, what would China gain by giving Google free reign there? What would it lose? The perception that nobody is going to boss it around, for one. The idea that the current regime completely and ruthlessly (I mean that in a good way) runs the show. Do you think the notion that an American company can boss around the regime is going to fly? And for what, so Google can maintain an office on the mainland? As if China is hurting for search engines…
I will say, and this is lil ol’ me talking, but who does Google think it is? Do you think the American government is going to change its laws because some company merely asks? (That’s a lobbying joke, by the way.) The nerve of Google to demand anything of China. Insane, all of this.