13 Jan 2010

Google's China crisis?

Just occasionally Snowblog is on the button! Yesterday I asked whether the world was just beginning to get tough with China over its systemic abuses to human rights. Yesterday that pressure came from iron ore producers, today it’s Google.

The search engine is considering pulling out of China altogether after discovering a coordinated attack on accounts it hosts for human rights campaigners.

Google’s darkest hour was recorded in 2006 when the company agreed to censor its site in China in return for a permit to run a limited Chinese search engine.

It has blown up in their faces – China’s and Google’s. This has all the stink of the Chinese thought-police hacking into dissidents’ email accounts and into the traffic of multinational corporations.

We must hope the Chinese throw Google out altogether – jam the site and worse.

That in its turn will stir the increasingly savvy Chinese cyber-folk. China’s attempt to limit its people’s access to the web are doomed to failure – the genie is out fo the bottle.

China’s action may be the most tangible infringement of the activities of the masses since the imposition of the “one child per couple policy” – this time round the masses may not prove quite so quiescent.

Meantime I admit, Jim Flavin‘s comparisons of human rights abuses between China and America have set me thinking.

I suspect there is something invidious about trying to set up a league table of human rights abusers. In the end it’s the individual who suffers when his or her rights are abused – who are we to sit in judgement on the parity of pain?

Finally how fitting that Iran – another systemic abuser of its people’s human rights – should be the progenitors of an attack on China’s own search site Baidu.

Some clever-dick hacked into the site on Tuesday and covered it with an Iranian flag and the words “Iranian Cyber Army”.

Tweets by @jonsnowC4

19 reader comments

  1. Tim Coldwell says:

    Excerpt: The company has been constantly losing market share against its rival Baidu in the last few months and is currently left with a small part (below 30%) of the Chinese search market. The way however Google (US HQ) arguments and prepares its exit of the Chinese search market (I deliberately say search market here – more on this below) is very surprising to me and extremely dangerous if not to say unbelievably stupid. This is why:


  2. Ian says:

    After Google fell before the Chinese Government and decided to implement their censorship in order that they could pursue profits they quickly realised it was a mistake and affected people’s view of them. But having given-in to the pressure they could not easily change their minds without looking stupid. So they had to wait for two things: a reasonable period of time and an excuse. Adequate time has passed and they now have the excuse so they can now withdraw without “egg on their faces”, maybe even with a bt of moral high ground.

    Of course any moral high ground does require everybody to forget the way they got into China in the first place; how they gave way to the Chinese in their pursuit of profit and world domination. Forget that and they start to look more of a respectable organisation.

  3. David Caldwell says:

    I did wonder what Google were thinking back in 2006, damaging their cozy reputation in such a way. I feel that Google will withdraw from China, the Chinese government will stubbornly change nothing, the rest of the world will rabbit on about human rights abuses for a week or so, and nothing will change. China demonstrated at Copenhagen an immaturity bred from it’s new found economic might that it doesn’t need to listen to anyone else. This is no different and shows once again why they don’t yet deserve a seat at the table of civilized nations.

  4. ChineseCurrents says:

    Well, at least Flickr still survives here (in Beijing).

    But for how much longer, who knows (it’s been, well, flickering on and off during the last few days).

    If readers would like to find out a bit more about the mood swings of the Guardians of China’s Great Firewall, then they could do worse than having a read of my article, Watch With Mother (8 August 2009).

    Here’s the link to it.

    http://www.chinesecurrents.com (scoll down to 8 August)

    So far my website has escaped the attention of “Mother”. Or maybe she has had a look and actually thinks that I’m a good boy.

    That’s the problem, Mother never tells you what she thinks and she never, ever, ever explains why she does, or doesn’t do something.

    Warm regards from a very cold Beijing.

  5. margaret brandreth- Jones says:

    Its not clear who the human rights activists are and who or what represent.

    As David Caldwell says, a Chinese stubborness prevails and was shown to be so at Copenhagen.

    Chinese Currents articles seems to say don’t put us all into the same box and don’t be convinced by stereotyping.

    Yes the individual is the sufferer when human rights are abused. What cannot be seen by others can be a life of suffering , in fact a dripping chinese water torture. Who is anyone to talk about degrees of pain and strife?

    Christians will look to their God to rise above pain , Islams will look to their prophet and his lineage to make sense of their suffering.I will gladly take the warm regards from Bejing and finally say that the figure ‘mother’ only does what nurtures and feeds her own.. who are her own?

    1. margaret brandreth- Jones says:

      Are these reports pucker Jon or are they arm wrestling with truths towards a desired objctive?

  6. adz says:

    So, China is on the agenda once again.
    Internet has so much power that the Chinese administration have to do something about it. So, their human rights record is getting worse by the second and in my mind will continue on this dirty path for as long as they are able to.
    Iran has a strong religious situation and as i’ve said before, I don’t want to comment out of place any longer but it will not surprise me, that they are do as China are doing. Human rights are a menace to both.
    As with the U.S., well they are a “democracy”, so in theory shouldn’t be legally able to censor. I have to again admit, that it wouldn’t surprise me at all, if they already are working on another act of evil.
    adzmundo CND

    1. seowukong says:

      I am wondering if you are really live in China? You supposed that China is a country where is no human right, etc. But what you imagine is not the reality, you are probably influenced by the media which has always the intention to give the rest of the world a bad image about the China !

  7. Anthony Martin says:

    Domination by Google or Baidu is a bad situation. No business should dominate disemination of information. Global predation of every commodity has being free to spread it’s evil ways under unrestrained capitalism and, dictator states. There is no ‘winner’ in this situation but, we are seeing the start of the end global domination, it’s a good thing. It’s just that this is unlikely to be reality.
    Unrestrained capitalism in the west has resulted in a deteriotion of society with increaed poverty, inequality, hatreds, media control, class division, mobilty stagnation and terrorist threats. Dictatorships pose as much threat to peoples lives as unrestrained capitalism.
    Human nature is inheritantly evil. This is why we have to preserve freedoms from ALL systems abusing human rights and, that especially includes here in the west.

    1. margaret brandreth- Jones says:

      I do not believe that human nature is inherently evil. In religious and symbolic terms this means that we are all ruled by the devil.

      I do believe that it is human nature to want to survive and perpetuate its own genetic/ social line.

      The question is, who are the people willing to dismiss all others for the sake , not purely of their own survival, but their own greed?

      Who are the people who can live comfortably with themselves in the knowledge that what they directly do , can be the downfall of milder, kinder people?

      I have noticed that the people who get the thumbs up votes mainly are those who have violent negative thoughts. There are so many good folks around , let them speak.

    2. margaret Brandreth- Jones says:

      Human Nature is not inherently evil. That is tarring everyone with the same brush.

      Human natures’ inherent force is survival which does not necessitate evil thoughts or deeds.

      If you contend that freedoms have to be preserved then what you are actually saying is, that this is also an evil act or alternatively your view alone is out of human nature , out of evil.
      Generalisation is the evil, when individual human rights need to be respected.

      “Evil people listen to evil ideas, and liars listen to lies” proverbs 17.

      The breeching of human rights requires people to be sensitive to the plight of others and there are many people out there whose own proposed evil nature does not outshine the good.

    3. Anthony Martin says:

      Margaret, people are free to be fooled by religious nonsense and ruled by dominating faiths as musch as they should bekieve in Fairies and Unicorns.
      The human race IS inherently ‘evil’. Since the spark of ‘life’ (Abiogenesis) form Cosmic spores or Gaea, the sole purpose is survival and domination at any cost. You are on this Earth because every single one of your ancestors were survivors in the face of competiton, not of some ‘God’. Any so called ‘God’ would have a great deal to answer for for all the evils on this Earth but then. there’s always the usual cop out that evil is the ‘Devils’ work!
      Please have a read of Richard Dawkins book ‘The Selfish Gene’ before you talk about thumbs up scores.

  8. Jay says:

    Anything that keeps the international communities attention on China and how it is treating its human-rights organisations is a good thing. But let’s be clear Google’s brand was being damaged by being seen to be complicit in China’s censorship. If it had come out that they were aware that attempts were being made to hack into the g mail accounts of those organisations and had done nothing about it. It would have severely damaged it.

  9. Frustrated says:

    I watch channel4 news so that I DON’T have to go online to find out the news. Why the fup do you insist on this idiotic modern media obsession with Twitter and make me have to go online to find out the answer to who Campbell was refering to. YOU are making TV news pointless not the internet.

  10. ChineseCurrents says:

    The Guardians of the Great Firewall have now decided to mess around with Flickr (at least when accessed from Beijing).

    Strangely, you can read the words but you can’t see most of the photos (not ideal on a photo-sharing website).

    Presumably the same blocking technology is being used as has been deployed on Google News (the UK version which is sort of available in China).

    I say sort of, because some days it’s not available and some days it is.

    But, you’ve got to laugh, the photos next to the story headlines can’t be seen.

    Things get really interesting when you try to search the news. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t. And sometimes you can’t search using certain words (quite often, “China” is one of them).

    Someone out there is having a laugh.

    My article, ‘Watch with Mother” throws more light on what has been going on here over the years:

    (scroll down to 8 August)

    Warm regards from an icy cold Beijing

  11. margaret brandreth- Jones says:

    Please read Mark Twains philosophy “What is man ” before deciding that selfishness excludes the doing or being good.

    You have a decision to do what you are more comfortable with and what meets your own approval.If you consider that it makes you feel happier to excercise tolerance to the benefit of others in a non judgemental way, rather than making you happier to work in a way that is far than less altruistic, it is that gene which is dominant. What seems selfish to some is not selfish to others and does not satisfy Dwakins theory who I do have respect for but I feel as though you have perhaps misinterpreted his work.

    1. Anthony Martin says:

      Margaret, you have specifically extracted a small portion of my blog in order to devalue its meaning. You may interpret ‘evil’ as a generality in much the same way as I have expressed it but, to be ignorant of the evils in this world and not recognise the inherent evil in ‘Man’ is naive. I certainly never misinterpret Prof. Dawkins works. Hence his latest book ‘The Greatest Show On Earth’ adornes my shelf, along with his other works, from the brilliant ‘The God Dellusion’ to ‘Climbing Mount Improbable and ‘The River Out Of Eden’.
      Altruism is an academic debate and draws kantankerous oppositions for the sake of doing so. It’s in ones own concience that we stand proud or not of our positive input in this world of horrible people. I for one could die quite happy knowing I have done good by people. But, the paradox is, sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. China imposing a 1 child per family is a great example of this. It has learned the hard way. Exposing corruption within Parliament is another, forceful detox of drug addicts be incarceration is another, etc.
      I’m not shackled by some brainwashing religion. I’m free.

  12. nxtgates says:

    Google isn’t going to pack up it’s operations in china just because of censorship issues, which are there in many other countries like India, or hacking issues, which are there in all the countries.

    This is just a threat to render a blow at China’s censorship model, which I don’t think is working.

    There are enough smart people working at Google who realize that it isn’t practical to quit the biggest internet market.

    Checkout this article http://techguylabs.org/2010/01/24/google-china-fiasco-the-complete-picture/.

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