Google Probably Taking Moral High Ground and Search, Leaving China

Lora Bentley

From all reports, Google will soon decide to shutter Google.cn completely rather than censor search results to the satisfaction of the Chinese government. Company representatives have said more than once that it will no longer meet the government's demands at the expense of the Chinese citizens' human rights. Since Chinese officials aren't about to budge either, closing the search site is pretty much the only option.

 

And though observers understand and admire the company for its moral stand, some don't agree that it's the best business decision. IT Business Edge blogger Don Tennant said as much in January when Google first threatened to pull out of the country after sophisticated attacks on its network were traced back to China. He said:

[Research shows] there are approximately 40 million frequent Google users in the country. Punishing those people for the actions of their government is unfair and unconstructive. Any company with an online presence faces the threat of a hack attack by government operatives and others in China ... So pulling out of China is unlikely to have any demonstrable impact on Chinese hacking efforts.

 

ZDNet's Christopher Dawson also points out that Google will miss the revenues from China, or more specifically, the large and growing Chinese market generally. He says:

China is adding almost a quarter million users a day to the Internet; these sorts of numbers, along with China's booming economy, will be very difficult to leave behind.

On the flip side, if Google were to decide to stay in China, Dawson notes, it could harm the company's relationships with partners and potential partners in the West.

 

And then there's Google's relationship with the U.S. government. Google has enough scrutiny from officials looking into proposed acquisitions or mergers. If it stays in China, do its shareholders also want to deal with the fines it could eventually face for failing to uphold basic human rights while doing business in foreign countries? I doubt it.



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