Google might pull out of China?

From the official Google Blog:

We launched in January 2006 in the belief that the benefits of increased access to information for people in China and a more open Internet outweighed our discomfort in agreeing to censor some results. At the time we made clear that “we will carefully monitor conditions in China, including new laws and other restrictions on our services. If we determine that we are unable to achieve the objectives outlined we will not hesitate to reconsider our approach to China.”

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered–combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web–have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences. We want to make clear that this move was driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China who have worked incredibly hard to make the success it is today. We are committed to working responsibly to resolve the very difficult issues raised.

Two things make this huge. One is Google itself and it’s “Don’t be Evil” culture that has had a hard time justifying its business in China. Google has caught a lot of flack over it’s China operation from the beginning and it’s never been able to really justify it’s behavior.

The second is China itself. China’s economy is imploding, and is in far worse shape than the US’s. Could Google be selling China short?

Whatever happens this is going to be big.

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4 Responses to Google might pull out of China?

  1. Old NFO says:

    Google has been losing their asses in China… THAT I believe is the driver. This will let them get out of there…

  2. Borepatch says:

    This is Kabuki – negotiations with the Chinese government. Basically Google’s telling them that they can be inside the tent peeing out, or outside the tent peeing in, and to back down.

    It will be interesting to see how the Red Chinese* deal with this; they hate this sort of public challenge to their power and legitimacy.

    * I only say “Red Chinese” to bug the hippies …

  3. Caleb says:

    You said “pull out”. Hur-hur.

    And it’s appropriate in all contexts!

  4. Noel says:

    This is a great time to invest in Google, while their stock takes a temporary dip, before it soars to heights as yet unseen.

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