Has Google really left China?

15:03, April 06, 2010      

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The question of whether or not Google has left China seems a little hard to answer under the current situation. Google has moved part of its search services under the domain name of Google.cn to Hong Kong, but it has maintained its sales team and R&D operations on the Chinese mainland and has not closed its site in China.

Google's "paradoxical" departure has received some harsh comments. A commentary in the Financial Times billed it a "lose-lose scenario." It said, "If Google had hoped to rally rivals to its cause, it failed. If Google was planning to embarrass China by whipping up a global debate on Internet freedom, it failed." The article went on to say Google’s "new approach to China" has undermined its claim of holding to its principles.

Google's contradictory move highlights the dilemma of a commercial company undergoing self-politicization. What happened to Google in the span of time between when it entered China in 2006 and when it threatened to leave China?

Many industry insiders believed that despite smooth development worldwide, Google failed to adapt to the Chinese market. With operations becoming increasingly difficult and a gloomy outlook on the horizon, Google planned to withdraw from China. Google shouted political slogans as it withdrew, hoping to gain benefits in the world's other regions. However, not everyone can play the political card. Withdrawing from the Chinese market is obviously not an action that Google can afford to make.

With the advent of the information age, how to regulate multinational companies in the information sector has become a new challenge for all countries. For any country, network information security is as important a matter as military and economic security. Like other products, information products provided by multinational companies should also be subject to security supervision, which paves the way for effective protection of the interests of the host countries and their people.

Google stated clearly that it would abide by Chinese laws when it first came to the Chinese market. However, it is now unwilling to stay under the legal jurisdiction of China. Everyone can imagine the consequences of Google's move. In this information age, the Google incident may become a classic case study for how a multinational enterprise can violate another country's sovereignty.

Many media groups have noticed that Google's share price went down immediately after Google's transfer to Hong Kong. In contrast, the share price of Baidu, one of Google's Chinese rivals, began to rise. A poll launched by the Web site of an American media group also shows that most people view Baidu as the winner. Does this come as a surprise to Google? Some Americans also make no attempt to conceal the fact that Google's decision means a waste of precious opportunities and harms the interests of its shareholders. China has nearly 400 million netizens, and the number is now still on the rise.

What we must point out is that Google can be called a rare company in the global investment tide. Surveys show that 90 percent of companies with investments overseas maintain that China will still be their top destination. Among developing countries, China has had the largest amount of foreign investments for 18 years. Even in 2009, a year with a gloomy global economic situation, China actually utilized 90 billion U.S. dollars of foreign investments, ranking second in the world.

In 2010, the trend continues. In addition, Google's assets in China were worth only a little more than 30 million U.S. dollars, which is too small an amount to mention. It is completely groundless to say that Google's retreat from China means that China's investment environment is deteriorating.

Now is the time to end the chaos of the Google incident, which has already lasted quite a long period of time. Whether Google retreats or stays, the prosperous Internet life of China's netizens will continue, and China's open Internet environment will also keep improving. Furthermore, China's Internet will continue to develop rapidly, and it is attracting more and more foreign companies to participate in it.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:梁军)

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