ZDNet (March 23, 2010)
"In a compromise move, Google announced they will not abandon the China market after all. Instead, they will move their servers and domain name to Hong Kong, while keeping their developers and sales personnel where they are now on the mainland.
"Google's Hong Kong site will now offer uncensored search results in simplified Chinese for mainlanders, and in traditional Chinese for Hong Kong residents. Visitors to google.cn were already being redirected to google.com.hk on Tuesday morning. 'We believe this new approach [is] a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced,' said David Drummond, senior vice president of Corporate Development, on the Google blog Monday. 'It's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.'
"Not surprisingly, China sees things differently. According to the official Xinhua News Agency the head of the Internet Bureau called Google's actions 'totally wrong,' and said that 'Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering on its searching service.' The official also denied responsibility for a recent spate of cyber attacks. '[We] express our discontent and indignation to Google for its unreasonable accusations and conduct.'..."
China: Inter-Dynastic Periods Never Were Very TranquilBefore anything else, some background about my view of China. I've been a historian, and realize that the position of China in the 8th through early 20th century - particularly from about 1839 to 1949 - is an unusual one for the Middle Kingdom. Here in America, we've heard quite a lot about the Opium Wars (disgraceful situation): not so much of the efforts of the Abbasid Caliphate to hack their way into the minds and hearts of the Tang Dynasty. But that's another topic.
I think there's a good chance that China may resume its position as a major landmark on the world's cultural, economic, and political landscape - and not as the anachronistic hodge-podge of ancient culture, foreign ideologies, all run by people who (in my view) are desperately trying to reconcile their notion of an ideal state to awkward realities.
"...I'm glad to hear that Hong Kong isn't, ah, quite as 'protected' as the masses in the rest of China. I suspect that the party leaders in Beijing realize, at some level, that it wouldn't be a good idea to choke the intellectual and financial life there.
"But that's another topic.
"I'm somewhat impressed that Google's willing to buck the system in the only remaining major worker's paradise on the planet. Not terribly surprised, though: too many people know what's going on in China and Google has a reputation to lose. We don't always call it 'losing face' in the West, but the old-fashioned idea of having values and sticking by them apparently hasn't been entirely lost....
("Google Stops Censoring Service: And This is News" (March 22, 2010))
"There's More to China Than Censorship and Porno Spam"...I'm still getting 'spam' comments - and they're still very often in Chinese.
"If I didn't know more about China's culture and history, it would be easy to get the impression that there wasn't much more to the country, than naughty chat rooms and young women just aching to be exploited.
"China's gotten through inter-dynastic periods before. I think the chances are pretty good that the Middle Kingdom will emerge from this one, too, with a stable and vibrant society. Which is definitely another topic."
(Google Pulling Out of China? I've Heard Worse News" (March 14, 2010))
Back to Google, China, and Managing the Masses"Censorship" is a hot-button word for many people. Understandably. I'm against it, by the way.
I also realize that when one group has control of most information channels, there's a real temptation to filter out things that are embarrassing to the group that's on top - or doesn't fit their world view.
For example, I'm old enough to remember when rock music and women wearing slacks were - according to one group - Satanic; and the dying gurgles of McCarthyism.
That was then, this is now, and there's a different lot in charge. They don't seem to like opposition any more than most folks. Remember when cable television was "divisive?" I do. Now it's the Internet. And those upstart news networks. (More: "What is an Information Gatekeeper?," Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 14, 2009))
China's leaders are, in a way, in an unenviable position. They are committed to an ideology which is not only foreign to their culture, but in my view doesn't work very well. Not when the masses are human beings.1 It's not that I sympathize with them: but I think I understand why they don't want their subjects to know too much about the outside world.
It could be called "protecting the masses from foreign lies" or something else euphemistic. I think what China's leaders are doing is censorship.
And I think Google has done a pretty good job (for now) of balancing their reasonable (in my view) desire to make a profit and their (again in my view) admirable desire to not cooperate with state control of information. Under the circumstances, I think that China's official view that Google is "totally wrong" shows that the company is on the right track.
China isn't AloneOn the whole, I like living in America, but I'm not an American chauvinist. Over the years (decades, centuries) this country has been - imperfect. ("United States of America: 232 Years in the Freedom Business," Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 3, 2008))
Not all that long ago, I think we had a very close call, when a strange alliance of interest groups had a shot at 'protecting' the rest of us from the Wicked, Wicked Web. ("Odd Allies: Opposition to Waterboarding and Web Censorship," Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 9, 2008))
When someone makes emotional appeals like 'save the children!,' I get - cautious. Which is definitely another topic.
- "China, Paper on How to Bring Down USA Power Grid: All a Big Misunderstanding?"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 20, 2010)
- "Google Pulling Out of China? I've Heard Worse News"
(March 14, 2010)
- "China. Hackers. Cyberattack. Again."
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 22, 2010)
- "'Everybody Knows' That Americans are Arrogant"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 17, 2010)
- "Lemming Tracks: Comments and Spam"
(February 16, 2010)
- "Google Gmail Hack: a Followup"
(January 19, 2010)
- "Google Gmail Accounts Vulnerable, China Hack Went Public"
(January 18, 2010)
- "China Shot 12: Don't Worry, They're 'Mobsters' "
Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 19, 2009)
- "Cyber-Attack Started July Fourth: Common Sense, Security, and the War on Terror"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 10, 2009)
- "Tiananmen Square Commemoration in Hong Kong: No Tanks
Another War-on-Terror Blog (June 5, 2009)
- "Tiananmen Square 20th Anniversary: A Losing Battle for Traditional Information Gatekeepers"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (June 3, 2009)
- "A Very Google Olympics"
(August 10, 2008)
- "Chinese Olympics: A Bit on the Control Freak Side?"
(August 4, 2008)
- "China Olympics and Algae: Bad News, Good News, Bad News"
(July 3, 2008)
- "Cyberspy Network Hacked 103 Countries' Systems"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 29, 2009)
- "YouTube Banned by China: Online Censorship?"
(March 17, 2008)
- "Commie Plots, Cholesterol, Frank Burns, Hugo Chavez, and 2012"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (November 15, 2009)
- "Being Counter-Cultural in 21st Century America"
A Catholic Citizen in America (March 17, 2009)
- Emotions: They're Bad, or Good: Right?
- The answer is "wrong," by the way
- Emotions: They're Bad, or Good: Right?
- "Emotions, the Frontal Cortex, The War on Terror, Anarchists, and the Illuminati"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (December 23, 2008)
- "Odd Allies: Opposition to Waterboarding and Web Censorship"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (March 9, 2008)
They look good on paper, though.