Repeat this with me now: There is no such thing as an efficient dictatorship.
Not that a democratic government like ours is some lean, mean fighting machine
Remember how the Soviet Union kept putting out those Five Year Plans?
Um, wasn’t that a hallmark of the ChiComs first?
Anyway, google’s censorship doesn’t strike me as important as it seems at first glance. There’s no real way to prevent supply from reaching demand– if there is desire, there will come about ways to access the forbidden URL’s.
The enquiring individual will go to an everchanging but findable website wherein he pastes the URL he really wants; that URL will load, be renamed, and presented… The “censored” URL was never loaded, from the pov of the calling software, and yet the content was received. Exampli gratia.
IOW, the barn door is open– it’s really too late to “censor” the internet… unless McCain et alia stick their fat faces in it again.
Yes, there are ways around most of the firewall…however, it is a slow process. I use proxy servers that are usually located in the USA or Europe…the time for those servers to bounce back and forth is slow…but, I can get what I need with a little patience.
Google was a convenience that, as you say Stephen, I took for granted. When I popped on to Yahoo the other day and saw a headline pertaining to the violent put down of a protest in Zhongshan last week, I was greeted with a Yahoo screen that politely told me that the page I wished to view was not available. That was that.
Yahoo, MSN and now Google have all come here to do business and to satisfy their shareholders with profits and increased equity. In the process, they have ignored the values of the society that brought them success in the first place.
As an expatriate working for a multi-national company in China…it is our duty to turn a profit but to hopefully show a glimpse of what Western (and/or American) society is really like. That means, that my employees are encouraged to speak freely…they are encouraged to challenge the status quo…they are encouraged to innovate and create. Something their society does not necessarily allow.
These three companies (and I am sure others) have failed in that regard and it is shameful.
Google caves in to the pressure of the Chiner government and censors their content…but stands firms against the US government and won’t hand over search data…can you say, hypocrite? Here is some of the best of what others are saying… Michelle has…
TO: Stephen Green
RE: The Question Remains….
What are YOU going to do about Google? Or Microsoft, for that matter.
Talk is cheap….
[All that is necessary for evil to prevail is that good men do nothing.]
Typo? Should this read “Less information…more corruption?”
“More information means less opacity, and that means less corruption. This, in turn again, means lower competitiveness.”
“… we all have our flashing lights, beeping and blinking and blinking and beeping …” may also be apropos.
Good point Chuck(le)…
Look… this is not Google’s fault. Nor is it their responsibility or even the
gee, lets all bash google and quote our favorite dead philosophers. but i bet that if you examine every purchase made by yourself in the last eighteen months, you will find “made in china” at least once.
glass houses and all…
As has been pointed out, there is a difference between buying a Chinese widget and interrupting the free flow of information regarding the political situation and political possibilities in China. I don’t see any hypocrisy there.
And while American Patrol’s point is in keeping with general business practices and court rules regarding same (Ford v. Dodge), there is something higher at stake here.
When one is forced to choose between money and basic American ideals, is it really ok to choose money simply because “money” is the usual answer when choosing between it and something else? That is, there are values more important then the prudent investor rule.
I think this has far more ramifications than we realize. By bowing to China’s demands, Google is accepting a direct role in the future and evolution of Chinese Society. AOL(allegedly) has also accepted a role, albeit a different one. We can all judge the values of these decisions, but more important is the fact that a line has been crossed.
In the past, companies like Ford and GM could manufacture and sell their cars to countries with questionable ethics with little or no impact to the countries’ evolution as a free society. However, the services that Yahoo, Google, and AOL provide can act to perpetuate the rule of the Chicoms, or hasten their demise. These companies now have the ability to directly impact the future of developing societies. The very nature of their business allows them to aid or hinder the governments in power. This is a new situation, and potentially a dangerous one.
I don’t think it’s too far of a jump from where we are today to a future where these companies make their choices intentionally *to cause* the impacts that may occur, and because of how those changes will affect their shareholders.
After all, a country with no minimum wage or workplace standards and rulers unafraid of their poor human-rights legacy can provide top of the line hardware at bottom basement prices. Isn’t it in these companies’ best interest to ensure that a status quo like that remains?
Is their responsibility to humanity, or to their shareholders?
RE: Buying China
As a matter of fact, we only buy things made in China as a last resort.
If there is anything that will serve that is NOT made in China, we’ll buy IT. Even if it is more expensive. Or we will do without, if it is not a necessity.
So…what’s your point? Do nothing?
[All that is necessary for evil to prevail is....do nothing.]
P.S. Have an appointment to meet my portfolio manager on Monday next to sign documents divesting my interests in Microsoft and Google.
my point is that it is easy and fun to throw rocks at the googles and wal-marts of the world. but when it comes to the individual acts that create a society, there is always a reason to do the easy thing.
don’t like china? don’t buy china. don’t like google? use yahoo or the telephone.
just want to gripe. thats cool too, i guess.
i don’t see that google selling a different product in china is all that much different than ford or gm selling different products there. but that is just me. feel free to disagree. but if google isn’t there with a modified service, will there be another unmodified service available?
i don’t know the answer. but i wouldn’t be in a hurry to let te perfect be the enemy of the good.
Are google’s owners lefty?
RE: Easy & Fun
“my point is that it is easy and fun to throw rocks at the googles and wal-marts of the world. but when it comes to the individual acts that create a society, there is always a reason to do the easy thing.” — jw
So where are we in disagreement about that?
As I’ve said, “Talk is cheap.”
I’m doing considerably more than mere talk.
What are YOU doing?
[Freedom is not a spectator sport.]
TO: Sandy P
“Are google’s owners lefty?” — Sandy P
I don’t know. I’ve never seen them play ball.
[Only left handed people are in their right mind.]
RE: What To Do
“don’t like google? use yahoo or the telephone.” — jw
Actually, as I said, I’ve changed my web-browser from Safari to FireFox. So I don’t use Google as a search engine any more.
And I think you’re aware of my stock/money-market moves.
Again, I ask you, what have you done for freedom lately?
All this self-righteous hand-wringing regarding Google simply drives me crazy.
If Google told the Chinese government where to stick it, they would be tossed out of the country and China would come up with their own version of Google owned and operated by the government.
The true hypocrisy is that Google is censored by law in the United States as well, as are television and radio stations, but since it’s in accordance with “our values”, it’s okay.
I would far rather Google be in China on a limited basis than not at all. (And I would rather Americans stop being totaly hypocrites concerning the first ammendment, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.)
RE: Self-Righteous Hand Wringing?
“The true hypocrisy is that Google is censored by law in the United States as well, as are television and radio stations, but since it’s in accordance with “our values”, it’s okay.” — Joe
So. The law of the land in China is equivalent to that of the United States.
Tienamin Square, 1000 dead.
Waco, 84 dead.
China threatens to nuke LA if the United States honors its agreement to defend Taiwan.
US doesn’t threaten to nuke any place in China.
China shuts down a critical newspaper.
US has the NYT, LAT, etc., etc., etc.
People protest in FAVOR of a peaceful philisophical belief in Beijing and get thrown into prison for extended periods of time.
People protest against the current administration in the US and nothing happens to them.
Yup, you’re right. China. US. All same, same….
P.S. You should be quite happy there…..
P.P.S. If you HURRY, you can get there in time for the REAL fun….
Ok, we have the essay, where’s the baby picture?
…ummmm, about that typo yk mentioned?
Less info == more opacity, no?
I don’t know if what Google is doing will help or harm the attainment of freedom for the Chinese. Since I happen to believe the policy of free trade with them will, in the long run, make the Chinese people insist on more freedom, I can’t see Google’s choice as horrific.
What does grate is the “do no evil” garbage they’ve been spewing so selfrighteously. They’re lefties, fine. But cut with the holier than thou garbage….at least until you adopt a position that will actually COST you some power or money……
Oh, and interesting how they’ll allow China to censor them but won’t give US authorities any numbers (not names, just numbers) on child pornography search activity……..how noble of them.
What to do had you to make the choice Google faced regarding business in China? Certainly they had to figure that if they declined China’s conditions some competitor would accept. It’s not as if the Chinese web surfers would…
In my view, there are enough future leaders of China studying overseas in the USA and other Western countries that this is worth debating but not the huge travesty so many make it out to be.
Just being more connected to the world through Google will bring about positive effects. At the same time, American business (i.e. the Google’s, IBM’s, etc) get smarter about doing business overseas in high growth markets.
Some criticism seems to label China as an oppressor of a walled-in people like North Korea. But if you have ever lived in China before like I have, it is amazing how far the country has come in an incredibly short period of time.
To be honest, I haven’t lived in the rural areas and I suspect China’s strategy is to hold the city folk on a really long leash, and keep the rural folk on a much shorter one. But the connectivity between cities and the rural areas is increasing so rapidly, this strategy will fail.
So many of us are chomping at the bits to convict China today that we fail to see the chain of events that could positively lead to the China we desire.
don’t like china? don’t buy china
that is ridiculous. No one here “doesn’t like” china. Buying something made by someone in China helps them. Suppressing their freedom does not.
There is no hypocrisy here, they are two completely different subjects.
Even though I think Google sold out with comical rapidity to the first chance they had to stop not being evil, I think anything that accelerates information technology, even crippled information technology, hastens the end. Business people in competitive situations, investing their own money, will find a way to get real information, know what the real factory output is, know who the real thieves are. They will not settle for five-year-plan BS when they’re answerable to their own wallets. Only when government controls both phony information and the phony outcomes of a phony market can a closed, controlled system work. As soon as the market gets real, people will force the information to get real too.
OK, if I were really deeply cynical, wouldn’t I be thinking that having China continue in its fascist ways keep prices down and prevent Chinese from competing equally against Americans?
The key is to _appear_ to be doing something so when the inevitable revolution comes, America can be seen to have been on the side of freedom all along, even if it was more convenient for them to have Chinese be enslaved.
But I’m not that cynical, I just see the argument
Er, the internet has always been censored in China. If you did a google search on Monday using the US version, some results wouldn’t pop up, others would just never load. Those searches, by the way, are still possible using the Chinese language version of google. But at least the new search ends with a clear message that “according to the local laws and policies, some results are not displayed” (if you can’t read Chinese, you’ll have to trust me that it’s there) – this, to me, is an improvement over censoring results without saying so.
The key is that this kind of censorship won’t really work in the long run. All the kids searching for their favorite Taiwanese pop acts (Mayday forever!!) will delight in the new, faster search, and the democracy organizers will continue to use code words and, of course, text messages. If you’ve ever read a Chinese website dealing with sensitive issues, you know that the Chinese people are often way more clever than the censors.
Pajamas Media has created a new blog dedicated to keeping an eye on business pandering to the CCP for a quick buck. In a post from today, a piece by Thomas Lipscomb of the Editor & Publisher writes on how Google is “talking out of both side…
What Google is doing in China most certainly goes against its company motto (“Don’t be evil”) and, I believe, is even more pathetic given that the censorship will most likely be rather easy to route around. However, I can’t agree with Steve’s thesis that a censored Google will make China less competitive than our uncensored one.
The Chinese are not going to censor most things that will aid them in their economy – and so far, at least, that’s the only arena that China seems to care about. The central government is making a fascinating bet that an authoritarian state can become a major geopolitical player not by force of arms but by economic might. The Chinese government has actually done an incredible job of combining the growth of a largely capitalist economic model while keeping an authoritarian political system. China’s model isn’t Hong Kong – it’s Singapore, where Lee Kuan Yew took the poorest island in the world and made it a economic powerhouse through a combination of unfettered capitalism and an iron fist of political and social control. China is Singapore writ large – it’s a model that (unfortunately) works.
Google in China is not going to censor scientific or economic information – it’s going to sensor information on the Falun Gong and Tian An Men. While this obviously impoverishes the Chinese in terms of truth and freedom, this will do little to prevent the continuing growth of China’s economy – and that’s all the ChiComs care about.
This isn’t to say that I think that ChiComs will pull it off long term – I think there are a lot of forces that are pulling the unified Chinese state apart. But it won’t come from being outcompeted by the US or Europe – it will be because the China is not a tiny island like Singapore where the wealth flowed everywhere. It is a huge, ethnically diverse country where there will be massive economic disparities between the rich coastal cities and the impoverished, polluted rural and industrial center. This is what brings governments down.
Those of you here contemplating ‘action’ against Google by not using their browser/selling stocks etc., might also want to stop watching the Rupert Mudroch owned FOX News Channel. In the mid-90s Mudroch caved in to Chinese pressure and dropped BBC from his package of satellite channels beamed over Asia, called STAR-TV. The Chinese goverment was upset with BBC because they showed footages of the 1989 protests and other human rights abuses taking place in China. The Chinese threatened to disallow all the STAR-TV channels unless BBC was removed. Mudroch complied.
While I could certainly argue that the Chinese people did not lose much by not being able to watch a lefty-propaganda machinery like the Beebs, cutting off a foreign TV channel was as much censorship as is happening now.
Of course, you could wish away this controversy by saying the Mudroch is an Australian
I had similar thoughts that the Chinese had asked for pre-crippled tech. I recomended putting more links to forbidden information in anything the Chinese might consider vital.
If Google makes the lives of Chinese surfers better how can Google be wrong? The (small) steps that China has taken towards liberalization, increased (though not full) human rights and greater freedom have come as a result of engaging China.
By making China wealthier Google will have contributed to a freer China in the future. Isolationism (Vietnam, Cuba, Iraq, North Korea) simply haven’t worked – the leaders remain wealthy while their people suffer in abject poverty. China is a success story and we should continue to push them forward by allowing US companies to engage them.
The Chinese people are much better off with Google than without them.
I thought that I was the only guy on the Internet who did not want to do shock & awe on Google headquarters. I may be, but VodkaPundit has some comments that bolster my case. Stephen Green points out that…
Your argument is the same as that of the liberals of years past. The notion that it is better to have some influence than strut around on your moral hobbyhorse completely escapes you.
This discussion is now about the general behavior of the Chinese government, but whether a corporation should aquiesce to a government in order to business in that jurisdiction.
To argue that Google should be chastised for caving to the Chinese government but that US television networks should be given a pass for caving to the United States government is pure and utter hypocrisy.
You also fail to answer the fundamental question; is it better for Google to have some presence in the Chinese market or none? If Google takes the hard line THEY WILL BE KICKED OUT OF THE MARKET. That is fact.
If we in the west want to have some influence with China, we need to take an incremental approach. It is better to be subversive than revolutionary.
It seems that Google has begun to purge their databases already. They have removed the help page answer to the question “Does google censor it’s search results.”
“Google does not censor results for any search term. The order and content of our results are completely automated; we do not manipulate our search results by hand. We believe strongly in allowing the democracy of the web to determine the inclusion and ranking of sites in our search results. To learn more about Google’s search technology, please visit http://www.google.com/technology/index.html”
“Your search – Does Google censor search results? – did not match any answers in our Help Center.”
Screen captures at my blog
to brian erst. i had completely forgotten about the “singapore model”. and didn’t yew himself say it was based on confucianism? confucius and mao? what a combination.
Google, Free Speech, and China
Now, if I can write something that affects a couple hundred people, imagine what stifling 1.3 billion Chinese people does. Even if a portion of those people decides to blog or use the Internet, their limited choices affects their worldview on a whole…
At lunch just today, my co-workers fell into agreeing to that nonsense one hears that “The best form of government would be an *enlightened* dictator/monarch, too bad power corrupts blah blah…”
I was too wrapped up in a side
conversation to humiliate them as I would be wont to do. I thought the same thing, when I was like 12 years old. But then I read Hayek. The most enlightened Platonic dictator couldn’t possibly process or manage the flow of information, or equitably balance competing interests, or weigh competing needs for resources, etc etc — and do that for an entire population in a way that comes anywhere close to being efficient or optimizing well-being for the most people.
RE: Conservatives, Liberals, All Same Same
“Your argument is the same as that of the liberals of years past. The notion that it is better to have some influence than strut around on your moral hobbyhorse completely escapes you.” — joe
Yeah. Right. Sure….
If it matters so little, why are you putting up such a fight?
Got stock in Google?
RE: In the Military…
“It seems that Google has begun to purge their databases already. They have removed the help page answer to the question “Does google censor it’s search results.”" — Duane
…we call it collateral damage.
And people like joe, think this sort of think isn’t important.
Google is already twisting reality in order to cover their ass.
[The love of money is the root of all evil.]
P.S. It won’t stop there. Whenever they are confronted, directly or indirectly, with their perverting the truth, they’ll invariably choose to pervert the truth even more. Just like the dictorators they have tied themselves too.
Google Is Your Friend.
And, as with most friends, there’s a point when you want to say, “fuck you.” I’m still mulling the whole thing over: I most certainly don’t think the stance Google is taking here vis a vis the DOJ obligates them…
RE: Joe’s Monty Python Moment
He seems to have fled the field.