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Sun Tzu would be proud
March 22, 2010 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Google vs. China, Round 2! Starting today, Google has redirected google.cn to their other Chinese search engine, google.com.hk. Will China be forced to block access to their own domains? Will Hong Kong, home to widespread political protest, be further segregated from the mainland? For the benefit of Western audiences, Google has made a page for us see what's getting blocked. (previously/2)
posted by shii (53 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Love this move. Exploiting the difference between Hong Kong and China.

Glad to see them stepping up of late.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:26 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fight!
posted by blue_beetle at 1:27 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Are they really doing this, or are they just saying again they'll think about doing this?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:29 PM on March 22, 2010


Next week: Google loses deed to PRC offices due to an unfortunate building code violation.
posted by ConstantineXVI at 1:29 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "Are they really doing this, or are they just saying again they'll think about doing this?"

Follow the google.cn link and watch for yourself.
posted by charred husk at 1:33 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


My understanding is that Google China and Google (Hong Kong) Limited are two distinct subsidiaries of Google. What does this mean, if everything maintained by the former has been replaced by a single redirect to the latter? In practical terms, is Google China closing up shop?
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:41 PM on March 22, 2010


They should have redirected google.tw. (after adding a simplified character option, I guess). That would really have pissed them off :)

But also, in theory the Chinese government does control Hong Kong, even if they take a hands off approach. There's no reason why the Chinese couldn't force google to do what it wants in hongkong too and that could end up making the Chinese take a more active roll in censorship in HK.
posted by delmoi at 1:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the transparency. It's a nice contrast against the censorship.
posted by davejay at 1:52 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


Such a brave stand from a company that has nothing to lose.

Google has effectively lost the war for the Chinese search market, but instead of pulling out they are trying to make themselves look like brave martyrs to democracy.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 1:56 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'll take the side of almost anything that opposes China. Giant monsters , rogue ninja warriors, search engines, ........ whatever.
posted by Liquidwolf at 2:01 PM on March 22, 2010 [10 favorites]


Such a brave stand from a company that has nothing to lose.

From the blog post:

Finally, we would like to make clear that all these decisions have been driven and implemented by our executives in the United States, and that none of our employees in China can, or should, be held responsible for them.

Given that this statement was necessary, it seems like at least some Google employees might have something to lose from this move.
posted by burnmp3s at 2:07 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tear down the wall!
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:21 PM on March 22, 2010


Here's a good simplified character search: 平反六四天安门屠杀事件 (Vindication of the Tiananmen Square massacre 64)

Also a search for 天安门屠杀事件 brings up This wikipedia page titled '六四事件' which is "Liù sì shìjiàn" or 64 "incident"

Apparently google translate will translate "Tiananmen Sauare Massacre" into Tiān(天) ān(安) mén(门) Shì(事)jiàn(件)

Here's a Google Translated version. If you mouse over, you can see the original Hanzi.
posted by delmoi at 2:38 PM on March 22, 2010


Oh, 64 stands for "June 4th"
posted by delmoi at 2:40 PM on March 22, 2010


The redirect to Hong Kong is genius.
posted by memebake at 2:44 PM on March 22, 2010


oh snap
posted by effugas at 3:13 PM on March 22, 2010


"Such a brave stand from a company that has nothing to lose.

Google has effectively lost the war for the Chinese search market, but instead of pulling out they are trying to make themselves look like brave martyrs to democracy."


Citation? According to StatCounter, whatever that is, "at the end of 2009 Baidu held 56% of the Chinese market compared to Google's 43%." Six months earlier, Google had 30% to Baidu's 68%.

Even if those figures are optimistic, and Google only has, say, 25%, isn't a quarter of a market that large worth more than nothing? Is there some (ad-related?) reason I'm missing that a search engine needs to be the biggest in its market in order to be profitable?
posted by jhc at 3:15 PM on March 22, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder if there's been another hacking incident. Whatever the case, I really wouldn't want to be an in-China google.cn employee.
posted by Decimask at 3:30 PM on March 22, 2010


But also, in theory the Chinese government does control Hong Kong, even if they take a hands off approach. There's no reason why the Chinese couldn't force google to do what it wants in hongkong too and that could end up making the Chinese take a more active roll in censorship in HK.
You mean in effect, the CCP has strong influence over the HK administration. In theory (and by law), China and HK will continue to have two separate judicial and executive systems for at least the next 37 years.

BTW ChinaHush translated a Xinhua net article on "Google politics" on the weekend. It's not a substantial piece but I think it's a good summary of why so many Chinese netizens only see this as a political manoeuvre.
posted by tksh at 3:49 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


This reminds me of this
posted by qvantamon at 3:58 PM on March 22, 2010


I think it's a good summary of why so many Chinese netizens only see this as a political manoeuvre.

It is a political maneuver.
posted by delmoi at 4:03 PM on March 22, 2010


It is a political maneuver.

A political manoeuvre by a supposedly independent foreign business to influence Chinese law and administration. As opposed to a political manoeuvre to uphold some sort of moral stance.
posted by tksh at 4:22 PM on March 22, 2010


I think it was interesting that the ever-careful Chinese "let the cat got out of the bag", a little bit today:

"Google provides US intelligence agencies with a record of its search engine results, the state-run news agency Xinhua said."

and

"Google's high-level officials have intricate ties with the US government. It is also an open secret that some security experts in the Pentagon are from Google", reporters from Xinhua wrote in a commentary.
(BBC)

They didn't mention that the US government allows the Google boys to moor their aircraft on federal property... or that it's good sense in downturn-times to nurture your intelligence industries - but they are ahead of the game on that front.
posted by sporb at 4:22 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is also an open secret that some security experts in the Pentagon are from Google

Heh, I love this one --- some computer security / crypto / computer science people used to work at Google? I bet there's Microsoft and IBM people there too, the bastards. Maybe even some of those sneaky Germans from SAP. (seriously, statistically this is quite unsurprising)
posted by wildcrdj at 4:35 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


They didn't mention that the US government allows the Google boys to moor their aircraft on federal property.-- sporb

Let's don't oversimplify things in order to support conspiracy theories.

NASA Ames Research is on a former Navy Air Base in the heart of Silicon Valley. NASA is still here, and the airport is now used by the National Guard, organ transplants (closer to Stanford Hospital and faster than a public airport) and some miscellaneous government things including NASA research. There are now commercial offices on the base including Google.

Just like most people living in Silicon Valley, NASA is having a hard time affording to stay in the place, and Google offered a lot of money and use of their aircraft for various NASA research projects if they could keep their planes there.

Because of budgetary problems, the government has refused the nation's primary aircraft research center at this NASA base to buy or build any new planes for at least the last 10 years. Since this article was published, NASA has been able to use the Google planes for a number of research projects.
posted by eye of newt at 4:38 PM on March 22, 2010 [11 favorites]


"let's don't?" My typing brain's grammar is much worse than my reading brain's.
posted by eye of newt at 4:57 PM on March 22, 2010


> Google has effectively lost the war for the Chinese search market, but instead of pulling out they are trying to make themselves look like brave martyrs to democracy.

I'm really tired of this kind of lazy, shallow cynicism. How about this thought – Google understands that its reputation is a very large part of its value.

For the services they provide – seach, email etc. it is very important for people to believe and have this belief backed up by performance, that Google is serious about providing unbiased information and protecting the privacy of their users.

Apart from being ethically sound, this move makes very good business sense. And not in your simple ‘cutting their losses’ way.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 5:04 PM on March 22, 2010 [14 favorites]


BTW ChinaHush translated a Xinhua net article on "Google politics" on the weekend. It's not a substantial piece but I think it's a good summary of why so many Chinese netizens only see this as a political manoeuvre.

"so many Chinese netizens"?

That was article was the government line, it has nothing to do with what your average Chinese person thinks. Sure rabid nationalists will largely agree with the assessment, but on the large part in China I am seeing a surprising amount of sympathy for Google.

I think we may be seeing a change in attitudes about free speech on the internet and in general. I'm not saying there is going to be a revolution or something. But Google and leaving China combined with the Green Dam debacle last year are changing people attitudes toward government internet censorship from annoyed indifference to hostile contempt.
posted by afu at 5:13 PM on March 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Heh, I love this one --- some computer security / crypto / computer science people used to work at Google? I bet there's Microsoft and IBM people there too, the bastards. Maybe even some of those sneaky Germans from SAP. (seriously, statistically this is quite unsurprising)

I'd also bet that their are current Chinese Communist Party members working at Google head quarters at this moment.
posted by afu at 5:15 PM on March 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's a really small spherical boat we all live on.
posted by vectr at 5:44 PM on March 22, 2010


That was article was the government line, it has nothing to do with what your average Chinese person thinks. Sure rabid nationalists will largely agree with the assessment, but on the large part in China I am seeing a surprising amount of sympathy for Google.
Yeah, I know that's just a Xinhua piece but I think it's too simplistic to think that only fenqing subscribe to that view. The "so many netizens" comment is my impression from reading around CH current affair blogs and BBSes (BBSs?).

How are the attitudes hostile now (I mean, the netizens)?
posted by tksh at 7:09 PM on March 22, 2010


They didn't mention that the US government allows the Google boys to moor their aircraft on federal property.-- sporb

Let's don't oversimplify things in order to support conspiracy theories.


Nonsense! Google controls the black helicopters that are spidering my brain! They've also implanted chips that are running PageRank on my neurons as we speak.
posted by formless at 7:36 PM on March 22, 2010 [3 favorites]


Google controls the black helicopters that are spidering my brain!

They've gotten to you too eh. Fact is, those helicopters belong to the People's Liberation Army.
posted by nervousfritz at 7:39 PM on March 22, 2010


How are the attitudes hostile now (I mean, the netizens)?

Hostile contempt, which is kind of redundant, so I probably should of just wrote contempt. But anyway, from who I am talking to, which is certainly not an unbiased sample, there has been a change in attitude. Internet censorship almost never came up in when I was talking to my Chinese friends before, except maybe in jokes about not being able to see porn.

But now a lot of them want to talk about the Google story, and a lot of them do not want to see Google leave the country mostly because they have positive feelings about Google as a premier high tech company.

So what I am seeing is that this is turning formerly apathetic internet users* into ones who are actively pissed at internet censorship. This is a different group than those who are already politically engaged and would be most active on the BBS's.

*sorry I can't bring my self to use the word "netizens"
posted by afu at 8:02 PM on March 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


So that's why my connection has been so slow today.
posted by bwg at 8:38 PM on March 22, 2010


I'm glad to see that metafilter agrees that American corporations should interfere in the politics of other countries.
posted by atrazine at 2:22 AM on March 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's a spectrum of organizational suck, atrazine, and suck(Google) < suck(CCP). Given the choice, I think most non-partisans would prefer to see Google in charge of China's Internet policy than the CCP.

I'm not American, fwiw.
posted by flabdablet at 3:05 AM on March 23, 2010


While most of China's web users use a different search machine than google for their normal surfing, a lot of science researchers are very dependent on google scholar for their research. Also, while the most popular search engine in China is not google, google mail and google's suite of other online tools are quite popular. If google scholar is suddenly gone, it will cut off China's scientists from a very useful and popular tool.

Are google popular enough that if the Chinese government decides to block access to all thing google, they will only then realize how dependent on those services they are? I only use gmail for my professional mail, but I know lots of scientists that use gmail with documents, calander and reader to manage and plan their life and work.
posted by chillmost at 3:50 AM on March 23, 2010


Let's don't oversimplify things in order to support conspiracy theories.

I don't know; if I was the NSA I might want a great big search engine... plus, it feels a little better to think that the US is in control of some small thing, as opposed to the current theme of "USA's gonna explode everything with stupidity!"
posted by sporb at 7:03 AM on March 23, 2010


Internet censorship almost never came up in when I was talking to my Chinese friends before, except maybe in jokes about not being able to see porn.

They can't see porn?!? Why even connect to the internet, then? Seriously, I was under the impression that only political speech was censored. The HK servers must be getting hammered right now by all the single guys loading up Redtube.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 8:38 AM on March 23, 2010


I'm glad to see that metafilter agrees that American corporations should interfere in the politics of other countries.

That's one perspective, sure, but personally I prefer this one:

Everyone has a duty to interfere with censorship, regardless of where it's happening or who is behind it.
posted by Ryvar at 8:42 AM on March 23, 2010


I'm glad to see that metafilter agrees that American corporations should interfere in the politics of other countries.

Yes, it's a terrible thing for companies to take a stand against human rights violations.

It often seems like the same people who would sympathize with the poor and oppressed in some situations will, in other situations, rabidly defend the rights of states and extremist religious communities to keep that oppression up without "outside" interference -- just so long as the oppressors are not American.
posted by shivohum at 11:49 AM on March 23, 2010


Apart from being ethically sound, this move makes very good business sense. And not in your simple ‘cutting their losses’ way.
posted by Pranksome Quaine at 7:04 PM on March 22


Well, it worked on me. I'm one of the authors whose work they infringed (cf Google Book Settlement) and when I heard about Google Buzz was kind of annoyed by the opt-out-ness of it and what revealed about the way they think about my data. I was thinking about shutting down my gmail and getting a hotmail account or something. Then I read about this, and now I'm thinking of going with inertia. I'm no longer quite annoyed enough to leave, although if another issue comes up I'll probably switch.
posted by joannemerriam at 11:55 AM on March 23, 2010


China hits back, censoring search results from Google.hk [via]
posted by filthy light thief at 4:53 PM on March 23, 2010


I don't know the fine details of this new development, but from the major news reports, I am inclined to applaud Google for putting interests (or objectives?) OTHER THAN profit first in this case.
posted by the_chap at 7:48 PM on March 23, 2010


Google co-founder Sergey Brin urges US to act over China web censorship
posted by homunculus at 12:57 PM on March 24, 2010


Apparently this is all just like the opium war. I remain unconvinced by this argument.
posted by Artw at 2:11 PM on March 24, 2010


I thought it was too long in trying to saying what it wanted to and got lost near the end but the passing mention of the opium war is apt: the forced introduction and acceptance of foreign laws, culture and societal norms is a touchy subject and a reminder that foreigners don't exactly have a clean and noble record when it comes to influencing politics on the mainland.

BTW, here are some translations of netizen reactions by ChinaSmack. Not indicative of Chinese opinion by any means, especially not when BBS moderators delete certain posts.
posted by tksh at 6:27 PM on March 24, 2010


Looks like Go-Daddy joined the fray.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:50 PM on March 24, 2010


I have already uninstalled Google from my computer. I support the government’s decision, and the government cannot possibly give in…

Somebody does not understand about Google at this time.
posted by flabdablet at 7:00 PM on March 24, 2010


Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), who has sponsored a bill that would prevent U.S. companies from sharing personal user information with "Internet-restricting" countries.

I wonder if he means us as well? Or will we get a free pass for being English-speaking?
posted by flabdablet at 7:02 PM on March 24, 2010


This cartoon from Chinasmack is awesome (NSF中文W).
posted by afu at 8:07 PM on March 25, 2010


I think as a Chinese man, it is never a big deal to ban any objects!!! or any activities that would profit the government.

take that, I am Chinese too.
posted by bohonghong at 6:08 PM on April 6, 2010


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