From The Financial Times:
This is a sad story.
Image from The New York Times
Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine and is now “99.9 per cent” certain to go ahead as talks over censorship with the Chinese authorities have reached an apparent impasse, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.
In a hardening of positions on both sides, the Chinese government also on Friday threw down a direct public challenge to the US search company, with a warning that it was not prepared to compromise on internet censorship to stop Google leaving.
The signs that Google was on the brink of closing Google.cn, its local search service in China, came two months after it promised to stop bowing to censorship there. But while a decision could be made very soon, the company is likely to take some time to follow through with the plan as it seeks an orderly closure and takes steps to protect local employees from retaliation by the authorities, the person familiar with its position said.
Google is also seeking ways to keep its other operations in China going, although some executives fear that a backlash from the Chinese authorities could make it almost impossible to keep a presence in the country.
Ultimately, Google is doing the right thing. In the past, I've thought that a watered-down Google is better for China than no Google at all. But my opinion on that has changed. China is going to be worse off for not having Google, but given the standoff that occurred in January, I'm happy that Google is taking a stand.
Li Yizhong, the minister for industry and information technology in China, said the following in the article above:
“If [Google] takes steps that violate Chinese laws, that would be unfriendly, that would be irresponsible, and they would have to bear the consequences.”No, it won't be beneficial for the development of China's internet. The more than western companies kowtow to China, the worse China's internet will be. Foreign internet companies that can act as a pull in the direction of more freedom will in fact be the ones "beneficial to the development of the internet is China."
“[Google] has taken 30 per cent of the Chinese search market.
“If you don’t leave, China will welcome that, if you don’t leave, it will be beneficial for the development of the internet in China.”
I understand China's desire for "status quo" and "stability." Yes, the country is transforming quickly. Yes, there are a number of volatile issues within Chinese society. But draconian rules halting the flow of information are silly and childish.
The internet flattens the world. It opens up information that would otherwise be unavailable. It connects people throughout the globe that would otherwise not have the ability to communicate.
Google is the ultimate expression of the internet, organizing the mountains of information out there for users to make sense of. An uncensored Google is not evil. It is beautiful. It's a shame that Chinese people may not have access to this wonderful tool going forward.
From what I understand, Google.cn will go offline and Google's offices in China are about to shut their doors. I'm curious about Gmail and, the international version, Google.com though. I have to imagine that those sites will suffer the fate of Facebook, Blogspot, Twitter, and the whole lot of other blocked sites in China.