This past week Google revealed that it may pull out of China. The main reason it cited was a serious cyber-attack on its networks and users’ gmail accounts that originated somewhere in mainland China. The company also said it would no longer censor search results for the Chinese government, a task, which besides being contrary to the company’s value of free speech, is becoming more and more onerous every day.
As you might expect, the western press has been talking about this continuously. I have been following the NY Times mostly. Here are some articles worth reading about the initial coverage, the business aspects of the decision, and the US government response.
In China, as you might expect, the story has been censored from the formal state-run news media. When it has been mentioned, it has been spun as Google threatening to leave because it is losing business to the Chinese search company, Baidu. On the internet, however, Chinese “netizens” have been busy spreading the word. Many of them are not happy about it. Read more articles about the Chinese reaction, media coverage, and citizen reactions.
The Google headquarters in China is actually only two blocks away from where we live. On Friday, we stopped by and took some pictures at the front gate (although present, the police presence wasn’t as tight as we thought it would be and they let us take pictures). It was cool to be able to take the same basic shots of the building as appeared in the NY Times.
Tian and I, along with all the expats here, are on pins and needles about what will happen to Google. We have gmail accounts, iGoogle homepages, and we use docs and calendar. It isn’t clear if Google.cn (Chinese google portal) will be the only one affected or if the government will move to block the American site too. Anyway, if you can’t get a hold of us via email one day, that may be the reason.