On air: Google, China and the nature of free information

Here is a link to our original blog post asking “Should Google pull out of China?” , published on the 13th January. 

Surprisingly, when I check this morning there had been almost 200,000 blogs about the story in the past 24 hours and nearly 6,000 in the past hour.  The developing story is featured in the most read of many popular news sites.

There has been a growing war of words between China and the U.S.

And, whilst there has been great debate over China’s web user internet freedom. this person comments “China is not free market and democratic country. The Chinese government seeks control of everything.”

So what is keeping the blogger sphere buzzing about this?

87 Responses to “On air: Google, China and the nature of free information”

  1. 1 scmehta
    January 25, 2010 at 13:35

    Because, the issue concerns all the freedom-loving people; they do not want their rights to be flouted or trampled upon.

  2. 2 MINA
    January 25, 2010 at 13:56

    because China wants to heat motors to begin a new war with the USA

  3. 3 Gary Paudler
    January 25, 2010 at 14:08

    Because it is a rare case of anybody standing up to the Chinese government. But any points will be symbolic; the Chinese government does not care what anybody thinks, they don’t need Google and their repressive control of the Chinese people is critical to their retention of power.

  4. 4 Robert
    January 25, 2010 at 14:53

    So what is keeping the blogger sphere buzzing about this?

    People talk lots about those things that interest them. In part, this issue is about blogging and email. Off course bloggers are going to talk a lot about it.

    But that said there are major issues at stake here. With 1/6 of the population, China have a very large presence on the internet. As the lagest search engine Google dominates the net. Its a clash of superpowers that may determine who utimately has more control over the net.

  5. 5 steve
    January 25, 2010 at 15:01

    All China has to do is say “maybe we should call the loans now” and the US will shut up. Obama, by even more massively increasing the debt, reduces the power of the US, because we become slaves to the debtholder (becoming increasingly China).. This was why it was wrong to massively increase the debt at this time.

    But on the other hand, free access to the internet isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, we in the west have our fair share of morons who watch Springer and believe in all of these conspiracies that the internet enables..

    • 6 Mike in Seattle
      January 25, 2010 at 17:54

      Uh, China holds so much debt that if they were to do something stupid like “calling it in all at once”, the value of their debt would drop significantly.

      There’s an old saying about how if you owe the bank one million dollars they own you but if you owe the bank one hundred million dollars you own them. That’s the case here.

  6. 7 Jagjit Singh Mukandpuri
    January 25, 2010 at 15:05

    Internet is not property of any body, now most important is privacy.China can make its own network.

  7. 8 c.d.weeks
    January 25, 2010 at 15:06

    to scmehta it is only the same as in the uk plans afoot to collect all mobile phone calls,texts,e-mails,phone calls etc.,and storeing them for goverment departments to use so where is fredom in this world, every country has its own way,there is no fredom as such any more.I could list a load of thing but it would take too long.

  8. 9 Andrew in Australia
    January 25, 2010 at 15:34

    Let’s engage China… that will make them more pliable when it comes to human rights. Not likely!

    Pandering to tyrants gets you nowhere. Face it China is a tyrant with a leadership that is imposed on the people, frought with corruption and has blood on its hands for its whole history.

    Stand up to China, pull out of China, let them know the rest of the world is not happy with them. If the west feels intimidated because they will lose their markets or cheap labour base.. well, the free merket existed before the world kowtowed to that regime in order to gain profit. There is a market of 5 billion people outside of China to sell to in that case, besides which, exclude manufacturing from China for example, and you revitalise manufacturing in other parts of the world that have been decimated by the mad rush for profits in China.

  9. 10 Roy, Washington DC
    January 25, 2010 at 15:35

    As bad as it is for a company to threaten to do this, and as bad as censorship can be, this might serve as a wakeup call to the Chinese people. They’ll want to know why Google is doing this, and when the government gives them an answer that is obviously propaganda, it will make them distrust what they are being told.

  10. 11 Mike in Seattle
    January 25, 2010 at 15:39

    The thing that keeps this story alive is the fact that both Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama have stepped in and very publicly admonished China for condoning industrial espionage.

    To be honest, it’s rather surprising to see this argument take such public form.

  11. 12 rob z.
    January 25, 2010 at 15:58

    Any company that feels that their business in not safe where it is operating,has the right to pull-out of that area.
    Google is a service provider,uless under contract;a service provider has no obligation to serve a hostile client.
    Would you privide a service to a person if they told you:”I don’t like your clothes,you smell funny;do you know what you are doing?”
    No one likes a pain in the ass.
    Rob in Florida.

  12. January 25, 2010 at 16:10

    Hi Ross,

    I think when we are considering China and its ethics towards free speech, human rights etc. I would have to point out that China has come along way over the last 20 years to find middle ground with the West. Before one looks for the speck in the eye of somebody else they should take the plank out of their own. America is not as clean cut as it likes to portray and is very much a nanny/police state that has incredible double standards, foreign and domestic alike. We also have to take into consideration the demographics of China, and how difficult it must be to govern more than a billion people. Human rights issues should always be pushed wherever possible, however I do believe that Google is chasing its tail with this one. One should understand that China, if it had started its industrial might 30 years earlier the world would have run out of resources long ago. Its one thing teaching a class of 5 people and another trying to teach 50. China should really be given a little slack, and I do believe they will thank you for that in the future. Its only through engaging with China, and finding the middle ground that one can hope to achieve the goals that everybody aspires to.

  13. January 25, 2010 at 16:15

    Google would lose if it pulls out of China. I myself will consider Baidu as a search engine.

  14. 15 Ibrahim in UK
    January 25, 2010 at 16:41

    I actually read the link you provided. Interesting that Western governments develop the ability to spy on their (and other) citizens. The “China Hackers” took advantage of a backdoor that Google created explicitly for US agencies to spy on people’s accounts. Add to the equation all the US laws that were passed 9/11 giving agencies greater power to eavesdrop on voice and data communications, and the vague laws which block any material that “may” be useful to a “potential” terrorist (very broad scope), then the bloggers should be worried about losing the freedoms they currently have too.

  15. January 25, 2010 at 16:45

    This is definitely an interesting story on so many levels (many of them have already been outlined in previous responses,) but as a journalist who actually believes in an uncensored access to information, I am glad Google has drawn this line in the sand. It sends a powerful message to China and any other country that seeks to filter the information their people seek to access that there are (potential and/or real) consequences to their conduct.

  16. January 25, 2010 at 16:53

    I can,t say I understand the argument,Google knew very well when they went to China that there was no such thing as free information.And now they wish to change the Leopards spots.I would think,that if I was being hacked,I would look at my own security,and not the hacker.Probably more financial rather than a quest for liberty.China will do what China does.

  17. 18 John in Salem
    January 25, 2010 at 17:05

    It’s a story because we care whether or not Google is willing to be a tool of an oppressive government just to increase it’s market value.

  18. 19 Steve/Oregon
    January 25, 2010 at 17:35

    Google should pull out of china and the U.S. government should heavily tax all corps. that do buisness there and use those taxes to pay off our debt to china. and if china calls in its debts to the U.S. Obama can tell them the same thing i tell the bill collectors that call me…. Get in line. if we begin taxing companies that buy all those goods and operate in that country the jobs will go to india or come back to america and maybe even the rest of north america…

  19. 20 Chintan in Houston
    January 25, 2010 at 17:38

    USA has the ‘Patriot Act’ which allows the government to spy on what people are reading on the internet, what books they check out of the library, what movies they rent, etc. All this information even though personal is electonic and accessible by the government which keeps tabs on ‘suspects’ and ‘would be suspects’.
    Even though i am against the idea of spying/ watching since we need to defend ourselves from terrorists that tend to live among us e.g. Major Haasan. But at the same time this seems like infrigment on civic liberties and sounds a lot like what East Germany did on their citizens during the cold war.
    So ‘free’ in the US can be argued to be an Oxymoron.

  20. January 25, 2010 at 17:39

    A very strong message has to be sent to the Chinese government. Google is a state of the art search engine meant to provide unfettered information. Freedom to information in this day and age is an inalienable right of every human being. The Chinese government by interfering in and hacking into Google’s operations in China was stooping very low. Google consequently had no option but to threaten to withdraw. Google has to stick to its principles. More companies should follow Google’s example.

  21. 22 Chintan in Houston
    January 25, 2010 at 17:40

    Even though i am for* (correction) the idea of spying/ watching since we need to defend ourselves from terrorists that tend to live among us e.g. Major Haasan.

  22. 23 eSCe
    January 25, 2010 at 17:40

    This is not the concern of americans except that it wants to show China who is boss after the cold shoulders Obama got from China during his visit and Copenhagen.
    There are more countries including American allies with worse records but ignored by US. The regular Chinese don’t even care only a few do.

  23. 24 Anthony
    January 25, 2010 at 17:44

    Of course they don’t want internet freedom! There are so many pockets on the verge of revolt, that any little thing could be the spark that causes a chain reaction that would cripple China.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  24. 25 nora
    January 25, 2010 at 17:47

    UK IBRAHIM nailed it. In 2001 or 2, when Admiral Poindexter was working on ‘Total Information Awareness’ I was writing about Enron and Bush in Argentina for a magazine in Washington D.C. I had composed an e-mail, sat back to stretch and decide if I should send it as is to the old, left wing publisher when I watched it disappear momentarily. Three thousand miles away, it flashed across my publishers screen. He called and asked if I had sent an e-mail and I said no. Similar experiences were repeated in other leftie lives across the continent as the Back Door was perfected.

    The US government demanded the back door, without thinking about who else might want to play masters of the universe.

  25. 26 username
    January 25, 2010 at 17:47

    We were told that giving the Olympics to China would ensure that democracy and human rights would improve.

    Has it not happened???

  26. January 25, 2010 at 18:07

    If u pull out of China would u go to Somalia?

  27. 29 Elias
    January 25, 2010 at 18:10

    Yes they should, but they wont.

  28. 30 pendkar
    January 25, 2010 at 18:20

    It is for the Chinese people to decide whether they accept censorship, or to what degree they accept it. They have a culture of accepting authoritarian government, so they may not be averse to it.

    Having said that, there is something to be said about China’s policies.The Chinese government will hopefully learn to be less suspicious of its own citizens. In the long run, that is as important in manintaining stability as tight control over citizens’ freedom of expression.

    Google will have to make its own decision about staying put or pulling out, for its own reasons. About Google and similar services keeping a secret back door access to user information, they should keep the key to back door somewhere very safe. Such things as back door access may be necessary evils. After all, we expect security services to foresee terror attempts and prevent them.

  29. 31 TomK in Mpls
    January 25, 2010 at 18:27

    This is simple, just ask this, will it make them more money to stay or will they loose money if they stay? That is the only deciding factor. Anything else is people asking them to abide to the principles of people with no stake in the outcome.

  30. 32 Crispo, Uganda
    January 25, 2010 at 18:53

    Bravo Marc, that is exactly what Ros and the rest of the listeners ought to be looking at if any progress and an objective debate is the aim today.
    For a complex state like China with a billion and swelling populace, it ought to be tough on Beijing.

    What’s so annoying is the notion that everything, either biz wise is got to be done the way Americans want it. That’s just a sham. Who said democracy was best democracy in the fashion and style of the Americans?

    If Google feels aggrieved, they had better pack up and be on their way out now. I don’t like this money politics of “capitalism” that google is preparing. Bravo to the Chinese for standing up to this exploitative tendency of the West.

  31. January 25, 2010 at 18:57

    This is truly a clash of ideology. Censorship is not acceptable at all in web world. Internet Freedom must be guaranteed by all governments in every corner of the world no matter what political systems exist there.

  32. 34 charlie in the states
    January 25, 2010 at 19:01

    Can Google absolutely prove that the Chinese government had a hand in the hack?

  33. January 25, 2010 at 19:03

    Email should not be subject to access without the owner’s consent, court order, crazy US policy (Patriot Act) or other agreement. As far as I know, Google did not agree to permit China to access gmail user’s email. China accessed gmail accounts of Chinese citizens who were allegedly “suspected” of being “radical” (i.e., human rights activists). If China can do this, so can France, US, etc. Google cannot permit a government to access their client’s gmail accounts without authority, which Google says that they did not give. It is one thing for a citizen of China to accept totalitarianism, it is another for a corporation that has shareholders, many of whom were outraged by censorship on Boolean searches in China, to permit account holder’s email to be breached. Google is on the side of right here. Moreover, if China called in the loans, the US government might default, which would mean an implosion of the world economy, it is not going to happen. I hope that Google will be able to come to an agreement with the Chinese government regarding censorship and searches, but if not, I hope that they will take the high road and vacate China. I wonder how those who favor capitalism ad mortem would have reacted to the boycotts against South Africa, which although not totalitarian, was racism and apartheid. The world has to put pressure that the Chinese people either cannot or will not do. Authoritarian is one thing, but China is much more than authoritarian. Good Luck Google I’m cheering for you.

  34. 36 Alan in Arizona
    January 25, 2010 at 19:04

    Google needs to pull out all of it’s people and resources, before they are found guilty of Freedom of Speech!

  35. 37 Stephen in Berlin
    January 25, 2010 at 19:06

    This is massively important in so many ways. The next superpower conflict will probably start in cyberspace and this is the two biggest powers in the world flexing their muscles in that sphere.

  36. 38 gary indiana
    January 25, 2010 at 19:14

    Google is just a corporation, they can and should do exactly that which seems to them to be in their best interests. The Chinese government is merely playing the card it knows best; political control.

  37. 39 steve
    January 25, 2010 at 19:14

    There’s a difference between say Austria and laws on holocaust denial and china denying what it has done. Austria admits they were complicit in the holocaust, and has laws that prevent people from denying what Austria did. China, on the other hand, denies what it did at Tianamen Square, and wants to prevent Chinese people in China from knowing what China did. Huge difference. China is trying to hide things. Austria is trying to prevent people from denying what Austria admits it did.

  38. 40 Ian in Indiana
    January 25, 2010 at 19:16

    When asked whether her students were comfortable having their access to basic information limited , Madam Professor said that ‘no one wants censorship.’ If that’s true, then why have it?

  39. 41 Elias Lostrom
    January 25, 2010 at 19:17

    As a previous President told Clinton secretary of state Warren Christopher, It tales a lot for keeping a lid on 6 billion people. However, it is imperative that Google slog it out with the Chinese. High time someone make a stand.

  40. 42 EJ
    January 25, 2010 at 19:21

    Why are we trying to hold Google to a different standard than any other company just because the product they sell happens to be internet access? Do we shout at Coca-Cola or GM for selling their products in China? What about the thousands of American companies who now send all their manufacturing to China – and allow the Chinese government to continue to allow the exploitation of their workers?

    Give me a break. They are a BUSINESS and in business to make money, not change the world.

    It has to be the CHINESE PEOPLE who choose to change their government and their laws, not corporations from foreign countries.

  41. January 25, 2010 at 19:22

    Google should fully pull out, as should all western companies who must deal with such a Stalin-esque government. China has more than enough absolutely brilliant people who are more than capable of cresting a Chinese search engine to their won specifications, and more than enough room to house the necessary servers, right? Like my Mother always said, you can’t eat the whole cake if you don’t like the filling in the middle!

  42. January 25, 2010 at 19:23

    Google is not a country that should be worrying about diplomacy or “insulting” China. Nobody in any democracy outside of China would characterize what China is doing as anything other than authoritarian control and oppression. Google should be applauded and if every Internet company would do the same China would be either forced to open up the Internet or find themselves isolated from the rest of the digital world. Based on the well documented corruption in China and the harm their products (tainted food, contaminated building material, etc.) are doing to the rest of the world it wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to be isolated for a while. Kind of a digital timeout.

  43. January 25, 2010 at 19:25

    I’m glad Hillary said what she did. It seems as though China’s state enforced pragmatism has influenced even the academic class in China. How sad to hear Chinese intellectuals definding the ruling regimes totalitarian tendencies.

    • January 25, 2010 at 19:50

      Hallelujah, someone with a brain. When did it become the norm for an American to not speak their mind. Bravo, Hilary. if they, or others do not like it, tough!!! It’s about time some of us had a back bone.

  44. January 25, 2010 at 19:26

    Hillary Clinton was spot on. She had to raise this question and not to kowtow to the Chinese. Otherwise the Chinese would carry on their unreasonable behavour.

  45. 48 Kyle Spencer
    January 25, 2010 at 19:29

    American living in Uganda. Your discussion overlooks the fact that Google claims they have evidence that Fortune 500 companies were also attacked from the same systems that hacked them in an attempt to steal intellectual property.

    Google and Hillary Clinton’s positions are based on much more than just wanting to promote free speech.

  46. 49 Lisa from Pennsylvania, US
    January 25, 2010 at 19:29

    How is it the US’s right to step in on matters of China’s national policy? I could understand stepping in if something was happening in China that physically harmed its people, but that’s not what’s happening right now. The issue of Chinese censorship (or not) should be left to the government and its people.

  47. 50 Larry Lang
    January 25, 2010 at 19:30

    What exactly is meant by “Google pulling out of China”? I assume they would shut down computers running in China, and relinquish the google.cn domain name. Would China block access to google.com? What portion of the Chinese people then could not access the site? And would China attempt to block Google from scanning .cn websites to provide search results?

    Suggesting “when in Rome” means you must accept censorship in China is nonsense. Some cultural differences (say, forks vs. chopsticks) are morally neutral. Some are not, and defense of freedom of speech runs towards the top of that list.

  48. 51 Tom D Ford
    January 25, 2010 at 19:30

    Google is a Corporation.

    Corporations don’t care about human rights, they care about the rights of Corporations to prevent human rights and create a monopoly in their business niche.

    Google spies on all people who use the internet, gathering information about where they go and what they look at and say, so that they can create personal files on them and sell that information to other Corporations which want to target personalized ads at those peoples’ vulnerabilities.

    Frankly, I’d like to see Google and other information gathering Corporations Regulated and peoples personal privacy protected.

    Well, that’s my opinion anyhow.

    • 52 TomK in Mpls
      January 25, 2010 at 21:10

      You need to learn a lot about marketing and statistics. Google doesn’t care about people. For good or bad. They track patterns, not people. They do put cookies in your web browser so you get the ads most relevant to you. Then they get paid for the ads you actually use, if any. They work to provide the best possible service to all of their customers, you *and* corporations. That is what puts them on top.

      All software *sold* by US companies and protected by federal law, must have government access ( back door ). If you want true security, use only ‘open source’ software. This would be Unix, Linux, OpenOffice, Firefox and many of the best packages available at any price. All US software companies put in back doors for ‘your protection’.

  49. 53 Trent West
    January 25, 2010 at 19:31

    Part of Hilary Clinton and the US government’s job is to protect the American people. Google as a corporate entity deserves the protection of the US government, so I hope Clinton and Obama keep up the pressure.

    The Chinese government needs to stop this pre-madonna attitude that it cannot be critized in public. What are two year olds?

  50. 54 Jonathan (stormy San Francisco)
    January 25, 2010 at 19:38

    This whole affair doesn’t make any sense. Let’s stipulate that Google is indeed being hacked by someone in China, or thinks it is. Its responses do not follow logically from that fact.

    First: Google can be hacked from China whether it’s in China, in California, or in a pineapple under the sea. It’s the internet! So a threat to cease operation in China is not and cannot be a response to being hacked from china.

    Second: Google muddies the waters by raising the issue of filtering (censoring) search results. They’ve been doing that since they first entered the Chinese market, because the law requires it.That hasn’t changed. And the filtering has nothing to do wth hacking. So a decision to cease filtering/censoring is likewise not a response to hacking.

    So whatever is going on between Google and China, it’s not what we’re being told. On top of this, the Obama Administration’s decision to infect itself into a private commerce matter, raising it to the level of an international crisis, is bizarre and puzzling. It’s hard to see what good could possibly come of it. Hillary Clinton seems understandably confused, framing this as an issue of freedom from censorship, when it’s nothing of the sort.

  51. 55 Laurie
    January 25, 2010 at 19:40

    I believe that Google should do what it wants because it is a corporation but they are knowingly stirring a hornets nest. They should do what they want quietly. Hilary should keep quiet because it isn’t a government matter. We are getting to a point where the US is not able take on the giant that is China – we are spreading ourselves to thin. The new administration needs to stop trying to save the world by kicking our “freinds” under the table.

  52. 56 pendkar
    January 25, 2010 at 19:40

    Will the chinese people be able to see the two sides of the issues where China and US differ? Or will the censorship get wider as the issues evolve?

  53. January 25, 2010 at 19:40

    “gain technology and expertise”… does he means intellectual theft?

  54. 58 Alan in Arizona
    January 25, 2010 at 19:40

    Maybe the World needs to pull the plug on China and cut off all internet access out of the country for 1 month or until China changes. But then you might have millions of people revolting.

  55. 59 Tom D Ford
    January 25, 2010 at 19:44

    It’s all Nixons fault, remember? He “opened up” China to US Corporations but not to Human Rights.


  56. 60 Skeptik UK
    January 25, 2010 at 19:45

    The west has reaped what it sewed. Western businesses outsourced to China to cut costs realising that they ran the risk of getting all their intellectual property and copyrights stolen. Western firms have enabled China to skip years of research and development, creating the unfair competition they now moan about and in the process destroying manufacturing jobs in the west.

  57. 61 Isham Crozier
    January 25, 2010 at 19:46

    I understand the perspective that it is China’s choice to censor it’s people, but it is Google’s choice not to service an area on ethical grounds. However I agree that it is not Hillary Clinton’s place to get involved. This is an issue between a business and it’s market, it does not need to be a political issue.

  58. January 25, 2010 at 19:49

    Tom D Ford – I agree that Google is a corporation and therefore its priorities should be questioned.

    However, regardless of all that, the issues raised in this episode are relavent.

    China has 2 billion people and 2,000 years of culture, and I understand that the “West’ solutions are not neccesarily China’s best way to go.

    But some things are human rights (such as free disemination of information) and should be enforced regardless of geography or government.

  59. 63 gary indiana
    January 25, 2010 at 19:50

    Damien, I believe all knowledge is absolutely neutral, irrespective of its method of dissemination. Nations that restrict access to information in any way, do so from a position of their own insecurity, rather than from an intrinsic right to do so.

  60. 64 Ana
    January 25, 2010 at 19:51

    I think this is highly hypocritical from the US government. Why are they so upset with human rights violations in China but be OK with the legitimate government of Honduras being over throne? What is worst censorship or an illegitimate government being recognized? I think both are really harmful and both issues should be given the same importance.

  61. 65 Stan
    January 25, 2010 at 19:52

    The chinese communists are the ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE.
    The government and the “laws” are not derived from the people, they are yokes on the peoples necks.
    The communists hate their own people, but fear them more.

  62. 66 radical1
    January 25, 2010 at 19:52

    1. Difficult because the internet is halfway between reality and a dream. Fuzzy boundaries. Who’s laws should be applied when an obscene remark made during a conversation, spanning 2 countries, is made. Make that a conference call and then what.

    2. Is accessing a picture of an American flag being burnt in Iran to be interpreted as condoning it. Really difficult.

    3. The internet is both an independent entity and subject to muncipal laws. There does need to to be a progressive march towards regulation just as there are some limitations on child pornography. The question of how much is the issue.

    4. It’s too late for Google to try or “try to be seen” to take a moral standpoint.

    5. Free speech. If you limit any part of it it doesn’t exist. From my perspective it’s never existed. . . anywhere

  63. 67 Bert
    January 25, 2010 at 19:54

    I don’t think we should limit the discussion so much to Google, per se. Even here, there are other options. I’ve used them all. Most of the time, I use Webcrawler.

    Google can go ahead and pull out of China. Would that change our web searches? Maybe, but I don’t see why it should. The broader point is that China is not abiding by the western view of what this Internet should be all about. For some reason, some people can’t accept that different vision.

    Let me give you an example. When you use the telephone, do you really expect complete privacy? Do you expect different governments to listen in on your conversation to different extents? Even in the US, expect eavesdropping.. Especially when making international calls.

  64. 68 jayne in Scotland
    January 25, 2010 at 19:59

    So here we …as predicted the tensions racheting up…..America in the pre crash years would have lived with this despite a few hollow protestations .

    The trouble is now the American economy is in hock to the Chinese with no prospect of regaining its economic dominance …..
    The Chinese may be a bunch of Stalinists ,and this issue with Google is a convenient peg to hang what for America is becoming a more desperate situation .

  65. 69 Jonathan (stormy San Francisco)
    January 25, 2010 at 20:00

    @Steve: Good morning! Actually, expanding the deficit is axactly the right move at this time. When the economy is in a huge recession, the deficit balloons by itself without any intervention, because revenues from a shrinking economy decrease and expenditures for unemployment etc. rise. Recession is immensely expensive for the government. Since it’s going to be paying a huge expense anyway, it’s obviously prudent to hasten an end to the recession, reviving growth, rather than just sit and pay for the recession for years. An attempt to reduce the deficit would be the height of perversity during a recession; the higher taxes and/or lower spending required would only worsen and lengthen the recession, to nobody’s benefit.

    Regarding US debt to China, China cannot simply “call the loans now.” The loans are for fixed periods of time. As for who is a “slave” to whom, we got a trillion dollars worth of goods and services and cash from China. China got a big wad of paper dollars, whose future value is subject to American whim. They can’t sell too many too fast, because that would depress the value of the rest. I’d suggest that China’s positiion is not the more powerful one, and Americans are anything but “slaves.”

  66. 70 Idris Dangalan
    January 25, 2010 at 20:02

    Google read and accept all China’s rule and regulation before signing agreement with them but Chinese government have to consider if google is relevant or was attacked hackers. In my opion google should invest in any neighbouring countries,if not why? China.

  67. 71 Tom D Ford
    January 25, 2010 at 20:04

    I don’t see how the US has any moral grounds to complain about free speech rights in China when our US Supreme Court just stomped down hard on the free speech rights of actual living and breathing humans by giving free speech rights to Corporations with more money than God to overwhelm and influence politicians and politics. Real people just cannot compete against monetarily against Unlimited and Un-Regulated Corporations.


  68. January 25, 2010 at 22:19

    Google should stay and fight, like all the rest of us. It is a continuous battle. Information communication is censored in many ways here in the US, as I have encountered while confronting the illegality of US military aggression and Israel’s 62-year campaign of ethnic cleansing and brutal oppression enabled by the US.

    Censorship is pandemic here in biases of editors and columnists, the news selected and not selected for reporting, how news is reported, and the language used. For example: the illegality of aggressive war under international law is NEVER mentioned; the right of Iraqis and Afghanis to attack us since we are the invaders and occupiers of their countries is NEVER noted; Hamas is invariably described as a “militant” or “terrorist” organization in AP reports, NEVER as the democratically elected government of the Palestinian Authority, NEVER as rightfully trying to defend their people against land theft, IDF violence and criminal blockade with homemade rockets since they have no effective weaponry with which to defend themselves; the Gaza massacre of over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza received less news coverage than the shooting death of one Iranian student during demonstrations, and the hundreds of Palestinians killed, imprisoned and severely injured by Israel while non-violently demonstrating is NEVER published.

    The battle includes planted internet stories to discredit real stories threatening to the power centers, and disinformation planted to confuse information seekers into believing issues are “controversial” when in fact the evidence is clear. A prominent current example is the systematic Israeli program to disinform and distract, following “hasbara” instructions for campus and community use and “blogging for Israel”

    The internet provides the only source of free information and many of us have come to rely on it almost exclusively, but there is regular evidence of attempted interference here as well by the dark forces.

  69. 73 T
    January 26, 2010 at 01:48

    Keep in mind one key aspect of this.

    The States have very little leeway in this. Diplomatic arguing can continue. But what else is here? The huge Chinese market.

    If Obama pushes this, the Chinese govt. will fight back. Various Stateside firms might lose market share. If you were the States biggest creditor, how much stick would you put up with from them?

  70. January 26, 2010 at 01:51

    I wonder how the issue of some grand, apocalyptic conflict came into play when the discussion addressed the issue of one COMPANY pulling out of China for a differing set of values that was part of a debate delayed when Google entered the Chinese market. It seems that ignorance will always mark the dialogue concerning China, as if the word itself actuates the fears of thousands that heated dialogue between states somehow belies some simmering conflict that is to come to a boil. How plainly unsubstantiated and idiotic!

    It is a truly ignorant belief that the people of China are blind and uncritical of their own government and establishment. Though such dissidence is actively suppressed, it is a greater insult to the Chinese people to adopt the “white man’s burden” that Western states need to “show them the light” of a liberal society. Oppression exists, yes, and it is indeed heinous — but the people of China are not incapable of leading themselves in their own manner, and into their own stasis of acceptable governance. They do not need nor want help from foreigners who have, historically, caused them little more than humiliation and grief.

    China will do what it will. Better to strive to understand why that is than make knuckle-headed accusations and ascribe pejorative and factually incorrect labels. Though the Chinese government is in no way immune to critique, such parental and self-assured attitudes towards their policies and practices only add more fuel to the burning pitch that is Chinese xenophobia (often invoked when the CCP faces liberal, Western critiques) and global sinophobia (clearly represented in this forum).

  71. 75 T
    January 26, 2010 at 02:03

    Maybe Obama thinks that the world will end if he publically admits this.

    But not everybody wants “American democracy, values, etc.”. How come many keep saying we don’t hate American people. Just their govt. policy? Because it’s true, that’s why.

    How come many Brits don’t like much of the Stateside political system? Then again, Obama has blown off Brown so many times that he just doesn’t seem to care what his allies think.

  72. 76 John 48209
    January 26, 2010 at 03:24

    When it is something I find offensive, I call it filtering. When it is something you find offensive, I call it censoring. But in either case the individual has the decision and makes the choice.

    The argument in a political context is less about institutional censoring and more about individual choice. Can a person have a illegitimate thought. The argument in a social context is whether thinking is doing. Can a person have an illicit thought.

    Censoring is done by many institutions: religious, secular, and governmental. But it is usually confined to the person who is confined either by pew, place, or position.

    To the Chinese government, China censoring of Google has a Chinese political impact. To the American government, China censoring of Google has an American business impact.

    America knows that most Chinese cannot afford to buy a car in their lifetime, but we demand the right of Americans to sell American cars in China. America is not fighting for an open mind for China, but rather for an open market for America.

    It is far easier for business lobbyists to have an embargo of digital information sharing, but embargo threats have a way of backfiring in other unrelated areas. China is a huge market of untapped business which the West cannot ignore or offend.

    Using a diplomatic rather than an economic approach to China indicates the sensitive implications of any action.

    The eagle will squawk and the dragon will hiss.

    Like the foodmonger among the audience viewing gladiators, the caterer will continue to be the final victor.

  73. 77 T
    January 26, 2010 at 03:39

    The govt. in the States still monitors all communications here for “national security”.. And despite that, Obama and Hillary are criticizing the Chinese for doing exactly the same thing.

    What’s wrong with this picture?

  74. 78 Ronald
    January 26, 2010 at 07:46

    Yes, I think what Google is doing is correct.

  75. 79 Ottilie
    January 26, 2010 at 10:18

    One point worth mentioning: not only does China flood the internet with ‘pseudo’ representations of Tibetan, Uighur and Mongolian culture (trying searching for ‘Tibetan folk music on youtube) but often when I am trying to connect with a Tibetan political site (even ones NOT based in China) I find they are hacked and the you are automatically rerouted to a commercial Chinese site.

    VERY creepy.

  76. 80 Ronald in Canada
    January 26, 2010 at 17:15

    Let’s not go overboard with this “freedom on the internet” thing. Maybe China doesn’t want pornography, gambling, commercial scams, subversion by foreign powers, etc. to be rampant on it’s version of the internet. If this is their objective, hats off to them.

  77. 81 Ronald in Canada
    January 26, 2010 at 17:59

    Google has been a failure in China with only 36% of market share. As it was planning to move out anyway, it has used this “moral high ground” stance to gain market shares elsewhere. It is simply business, not moral principles as the motivator.

  78. 82 Elias Lostrom
    January 26, 2010 at 19:06

    36% of 1.2 billion users is…..? Hey if Google don’t want it I would like them to give it to me!

  79. 83 T(not to be confused w/Tom in N.Z. or the other Tom in the States)
    January 26, 2010 at 22:52

    I wonder how various expats in Beijing, Shanghai and other major Chinese areas feel about this? I’ve spent a lot of time in HK (both before and after the handover to the mainland).

    If you talk to the locals, in public most will say the handover was a good thing. But in private it’s something else. Yet, they monitor their content thru the govt. and “security bureaus”. In the States, the govt. monitors all communications. People are routinely censored on My Space and other sites for their progressive content.

    If Google doesn’t like it, you never should have signed the contracts to begin with.

  80. 84 Craig
    January 27, 2010 at 15:46

    Th blogosphere is buzzing because it is the blogosphere which has most to lose.

  81. 85 Ronald Almeida
    January 27, 2010 at 17:26

    I think like me, most of the bloggers taking part are really waiting to see who wins. Like the fans of any sport.

  82. 86 Jaime Saldarriaga
    January 27, 2010 at 18:45

    What keeps the blogger sphere buzzing about this is that it is an issue related to the concept of freedom of information.

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