So Google might be leaving China. Ostensibly, the company will be engaging in talks with the government as to how they can proceed to exist in China, but is no longer to follow Beijing’s censorship rules. Various people have speculated about other reasons for Google’s willingness to abandon what will certainly be the largest internet market in the world, citing fear of further IP theft (Google reported that their system had been hacked by Chinese hackers, some code was stolen, and the email accounts of some Chinese social activists were accessed), or perhaps a concession to China’s #1 search engine, Baidu. But what are Chinese people saying about this? We’ve collected some excerpts from various blog posts, Twitter accounts, etc.
From Amoiist’s Twitter:
The overall economic losses Google will suffer from leaving China will be slight, but because of this they will gain international fame and [a perception that they are] moral, the benefits of this are both long-lasting and priceless. Moreover, the day when the CCP steps down or changes will be the day that Google returns, [this whole thing] is just Google earning a few less coins for a while.
From Ai Weiwei’s Twitter:
At the Political Bureau meeting tonight…”Tonight our main topic is…hey, Li [Li Kaifu, former CEO of Google China], why don’t you come explain to everyone what Google is?”
Google already has the intent of leaving, which shows the clear distinction between the power of capitalism vs. the power of politics. Obama, you should cherish the memory of the Grass Mud Horse.
Google, I await your return when there is freedom.
From Han Song’s blog:
I think Google is a very naive company […] some people are saying that Google wants to […] lead the way, and give a challenge to the now-strong China, firing a shot to signal a battle. But they have forgotten that’s just science fiction. After the economic crisis, so many foreigners have gone to great lengths to make inroads with China, and want to rely on China; how can Google be so naive?
[…] Google is leaving, flustered and frustrated. After all, this isn’t bad, and all the cadres and the people are laughing heartily — Fear you going? From the beginning, you were completely locked-up [censored], when did we ever fear? This will only make us more on guard against, and see more into the nature of, imperialism, and make an even more impregnable wall. We will see this fight, which you’ve lost, through to the end; after all, you’re the one who has to come crawling back to us. If you don’t believe, wait and see!
From Zhang Wen’s blog, which has a lengthy essay on Google and Li Kaifu:
[…] Google finally can no longer stomach the increasingly tightening reins, and must abandon their original position of compromise. I feel this is civilization fighting back against savagery, this is freedom fighting back against autocracy […]
I’m very sorry to see some domestic websites and people gloating at another’s misfortune [i.e., happy about Google’s leaving]. I really don’t know what’s in these peoples’ heads, aside from money and ignorance. As a man who understood once said, “If things go on like this, China’s netizens will gradually come down in the world, becoming second-class netizens. Without any way of using the internet’s most advanced search tools, internet commerce will slowly return to the ‘stone age of the internet’.”
And a comment on a BBS post of the story on Anti-CNN (interestingly, the Chinese version of the originally-English news story is missing the explanation of why Google is considering leaving China):
Ha, Google is getting dizzy, they’ve forgotten about market economics and thought themselves to be badass!
Additionally, it’s important to note two things about the Chinese response so far. One, and this was also noted by a commenter on Zhang Wen’s blog, this story has not gotten much play in the mainstream Chinese media, which has been largely silent. Second, and understandably, there has been more discussion in Chinese circles about what will happen to Google China’s employees, should Google decide to leave China, than there has been on English blogs and news stories.
That’s it for now, we will update this post if more interesting responses or comments pop up.
I can’t possibly keep up with this story, but here are many relevant links.
Google, Baidu, and Wild Speculation (Danwei)
Google退出中国 谁最受伤 (无聊布棉)
Everything (almost) that’s happened with Google + China so far (Shanghaiist)
The Chief Design Officer of Baidu Reacts to Google’s Withdrawal from China (ESWN)
Google and the Power of the Internet in China (The Useless Tree)
Say Goodbye to Google in China? Chinese Reactions (ChinaSMACK)
Google and China (Multiple Posts, Chinayouren)
Dramatic News from Google on Chinese Cyber Attack (Peking Duck)
The Google News: China enters its Bush-Cheney era (James Fallows)
Google detonates the China corporate communications script (Imagethief)
Google China photos: Because I’m Without Words (CN Reviews)
Googlesmacked (China Hearsay, Americans should definitely read this one!)
Q&A: Google and China (Evan Osnos)
Google China Employees in Limbo (WSJ)
Couple’s Counseling, Perhaps? (Bendi Laowai)
Twitter Responses to Google Leaving China (CDT)
Google Puts its Foot Down (RConversation)
Google Awakes to the China Reality (Found in China)
Gmail Security Breach, Want Some Proof? (ChinaHush)
This story, as they say, has legs (at least outside China). Meanwhile, things are quietly getting pretty creepy in Xinjiang, and pretty much no one is paying attention.