Google in China: To Be or Not To Be

It would be amazed to see that a young man who works at the computer for eight hours and more that is ignored about Google. For us, the coming out of search engine has changed our lives. Their service make the seeking of specified information from the pool of Internet become easy. Among the numerous search engine, Google is undoubtedly the most famous one due to its advantage on technology and service. And in less than a decade, the Google has developed from a small workshop, settled in a garage, to a global company that integrated various services, like online photo album, Email service, Books, etc. However, it is this large firm that announced his willing of exiting China this morning.

The respect of freedom is a virtue of the Internet, and it is proposed to be a bottom line for Internet as well. In a virtual environment of Internet, people from everyone corner can share their understanding on public affairs, political events, and technical issues. It is the application of the Internet that boost the development of international trading and academic exchange among the institutions around the world. No matter if you are an expert, professor or just an ordinary citizen from a small town, the Internet is served as a public dictionary, from where you can look up historical events, statistical data, or even the pricing vegetables in a town that you are living in. Any attempt on preventing the users of Internet from obtaining certain contents can thus be regarded as a volatility to its virtue, except for some cases like threatens to the national security.

But in a mystery China, everything can happen, including the governmental control of the usage for this network. For decades, the information from the Internet is carefully filtered, which is generally introduced in a previous post. Such filtering also exists on the controlling of paper based materials. Materials and publications that are against the communism are fully controlled, especially when such materials are written in simplified and traditional Chinese, which is comprehensive for most readers hereby. That’s why for decades, the custom between Hong Kong and Mainland is caring much more on the publications within the traveler’s luggage, comparing to the custom in Shanghai, who are welcoming most travelers from US and Europe.

Google’s respect to the virtue of China is apparently conflicting with willing of the Chinese government.  For Google, they are willing to present every result that they can obtain from the Internet based on their automatic indexing service, which is regarded as both the virtue of Internet and their customers. In contrary, for Chinese government, such service may not be that pleasant. Since the result presented by Google can offer news reports and analysis from other news agencies that are inconsistent to the Xinhua News Agency, which is regarded as an authority of news in China. To prevent the readers in China of reaching such ‘invalid information’, the links to the ‘invalid information’ that is regarded by the government would be reset by a firewall, known as GFW. The service of Google would down for minutes when such volatility is detected.

The reset by the GFW greatly reduce the user experience of Google. To reconcile for this action, Google.cn, a special edition of Google in China is coming out. His result is artificially intervened and all the ‘invalid information’ would be excluded. By using Google.cn instead, the user experience is much better, but, the accuracy for the result is totally lost. Frankly, the result presented by the Google.cn is biased, which is criticized by numerous mediums overseas. 

i don’t know if it is the criticism or some other reasons promote Google for an announcement on his official blog this morning. According to the announcement, from today, the Google.cn would stop his artificial intervene and provide unbiased result consistent to the Google.com, his global site. And the Google.cn would be abandoned if the government refuse to accept this decision. It is obviously a good news for most users of Google. However, it means much more than only a piece of good news and the freedom for Internet in China.

Abandoning the Google.cn can directly be regarded as its abandon of markets in China. For Chinese users, Google.com would be their only choice, as what we did prior to the release of Google.cn. But don’t forget that the domain of Google.com can be locked by a firewall, just like what they have done for YouTube, Flicker, Face book, etc. Problems can be more serious if the IP of Google.com is located in the black list  for Email service providers in China. Such action can prevent most Gmail users to the friends in China if they are using the mailbox provided by an national ISP.  It is of some probability to happen due to the official announcement from Google, which shows evidence on the concerns of Email accounts from some persons from the Chinese government.

Besides Email, numerous services would also be unavailable once Google is locked in China. For webmasters of certain websites, including myself, the Google Adsense, Google Analytics, Google Webmasters would out of use. For academic and graduate students, they would never expect the Google Scholar for certain academic references. The life would be totally changed, and we are forced to seek for numerous alternatives for these services. The transition cost can be expected to be large.

I don’t know who would this even further go, but I do appreciate the excellent services that Google has bring us. It is hard to imagine how the life would be once Google is prohibited. Let’s just wait for the governmental response for this announcement.

7 thoughts on “Google in China: To Be or Not To Be”

    1. 哈哈,谢谢,这个主题的确不错。我们的媒体当然不会提这个了。不过如果你看了昨天的华尔街日报,你就会知道上面有好几篇文章提到这个了。

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