Here’s a story I simply do not understand. Yes, we all know that Google has pulled out of mainland China, choosing to redirect all Chinese traffic through its uncensored Hong Kong hub. What I don’t understand is, what gives Google the right to flout a country’s laws, no matter how “bad” they may seem? China doesn’t want its citizens to read up on Tienanmen Square—and? I really don’t think it’s the place outsiders to tell China how to run itself. You wouldn’t want Big China Corporation to build a factory in the middle of Texas, then demand that the state of Texas bend to its whims, would you?
First, the facts. Facts are helpful sometimes. China and Google have been feuding out in the open, WrestleMania-style, over China’s demand that Google censor its search results. Google, which ostensibly does no evil, protested, saying that it’s committed to the free flow of information (provided it can tack on a few ads alongside said information). So, China says this: “Fine. Take a hike, Google.” Then Google says, “OK…” but then it reroutes all China traffic through its Hong Kong site, which isn’t subject to the same censorship regime.
So, to recap: China has a problem with Google’s way of doing business, tells Google to knock it off, Google refuses, then skirts around the law for its own benefit.
How can people support Google?
I frequently see things like, “Well, what about those Chinese hackers?!” So one thing justifies the other, you’re saying? Even if that turns out being true, that Chinese hackers under the watchful eye of Beijing, attacked Google, does that give Google the right to ignore Chinese law? If you egg my car—punk kids!—does that mean I can walk into your house, steal your TV, then say, “What? This makes us even.”
If Google has a problem with Chinese hackers, then it should deal with that issue, and not use it as an excuse to do whatever it wants “just because.”
I’m not defending Chinese law, but I fully recognize that it’s none of my business. If that’s how the Chinese government wants to run its affairs, so be it. It’s fairly silly to project one’s own cultural animus onto other peoples.
If Google wants to do business in China, it has to play by China’s rules. What’s so controversial about that?
Google shouldn’t get a free pass simply because it’s Google.