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Do the people of China want this information anyway?

by on August 5, 2010

I am sure everyone remembers the Google China conflict that occurred early this year in Janurary and hit its boiling point by March. After a security breach in Google’s system from Chinese hackers, the incident sent the largest search engine provider ready to move out of China all together. The scandal, reminded citizens in non-communist countries that freedom of information is not open to everyone. Though Google was initially frustrated and ready to pull the plug on Google China, after months of back and forth the company had its license renewed on July 12th.

A lesson for all.

What Google had to learn was one size  does not fit all, even when wanting to stay true to your mission to “Don’t Be Evil,” you must also play by the rules as they are set forth by other countries. This is a hard one but… it’s just not our place to force the issue… Not just yet.

When it becomes our place, and that will be when the people continue to push and push for information freedom and the right to it, we will, (if companies that believe in the right to undo censorship) still be around to support those in search of it. As of now let’s be honest, going against the rules means going against the financial bottom line for Google and any other company that tries to challenge the laws of China,  right now the measurement needs to be what is most important. Providing information before the continuous uproar of the majority of the people seeking it out, or providing this information because culturally we know it to be our God given right and the right of everyone else to have access to just about everything. Which one is it really?

Are we almost there?

This past May, Mai Yaohai a professor in China was arrested for what the Chinese government calls crowd licentiousness. Mr. Mai is a swinger, and his story has rocked the country of China for its scandalous topic and the issues it brings forth, should people be arrested for what they do behind closed doors? Is this truly a crime or a moral ill? Though  the Internet chat rooms that Mai himself created played the major role in getting these “events” together,  the activities were not done in public. This is beginning to raise questions on the implications it has for when the government feels it should interfere in the personal lives of the people, something the Chinese government had loosened its hands upon decades ago. “Legal scholars say the Qinhuai District Court, which tried Mr. Ma, took an unusually long time to reach the verdict, which could indicate that judicial officials had to weigh a variety of legal and political factors in deciding how to enforce this law,” reports Edward Wong of the New York Times.

This story raises the question, how far will the Chinese government go to where it crosses a new line of involvement that the people begin to feel they may need to push back?  That’s where American born companies can take the lead and support the people the best way they see fit. Until then I have two recommendations for countries wanting to get into the China business market:

1.    It is not America. Respect the country and the cultural ways. In order to make it overseas you must stay to only the core of what your business objective is –  providing great service to the people.

2.     It is not America. Follow the rules. Business is not a front for activism, so separate the two.

From → China

3 Comments
  1. amim10 permalink

    Linda, this is such a current topic and it will be interesting to see how it is going to unfold over time. I wonder how long China can continue to keep their current stance on access to information when the world is only becoming smaller and technology is only becoming more advanced. Only a week or two ago, it was discovered the Kindle can access information in China that is supposed to be restricted (http://jkontherun.com/2010/07/27/kindle-breaches-the-great-firewall-of-china/). How many times can they block access before it becomes too difficult to keep up?

  2. It is pretty interesting how I’ve read a lot of articles about how China is advance in social networking use, which is fostered by openness and connectedness. Yes, they are not truly open and connected as shown by your Google example.

  3. This post confused me a bit as I was not quite sure where you were headed with the connection between Google in China and the story of Mr. Mai. I think your main point is that Google should adapt to the Chinese market and accept limitations on what information they can crawl and deliver as search results. If this is indeed what you think, then you need to dig a bit deeper into what potential implications this has. There is a large and active movement of people within China who are already demanding more access to information, so you would need to consider this. Also, any discussion of Google in China should at least mention Baidu – did you look at how this Chinese home grown search engine is succeeding while Google is not? Have they chosen to adhere to government guidelines first and this is their secret, or is there (as I suspect) more pride and loyalty to the search engine as being uniquely for the Chinese market versus a more global site like Google? Adding this missing pieces would have clarified your point of view and made your post flow a bit better. As it was, I didn’t know if I quite understood your meaning. (4)

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