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Google does the right thing in China -- will Microsoft follow?

I shave with a Gillette razor and Gillette blades. I have been doing so for about 40 years -- ever since I switched from Schick because its then-owner, Patrick Frawley Jr., was an enthusiastic contributor to various right-wing causes. Frawley eventually sold the firm and died in 1998, but I continue to stick with Gillette out of habit, and also because I know that one blade is as good as another. I think Microsoft should know I feel that same way about search engines.

When last I checked, Microsoft’s Bing search agent was still operating in China and still in supine cooperation with the government, censoring searches. That means that should any of China’s 1.3 billion people wonder what actually happened in Tiananmen Square on that dark day in 1989, Bing will not supply the answer. It’s made a deal with the Chinese devil.

Google once had such a deal, too. But either because it found that doing business in China is fraught with danger -- it was getting seriously hacked -- or because it really could no longer stomach playing the role of censor, is now moving out of China proper and relocating to Hong Kong. We will soon see if that geographical move evades Chinese censorship. (Chances are it will not.)

Google’s slogan “Do No Evil” always struck me as jejune (Google that) and pretentious. Now, though, is has put its money where its slogan is and given up on the vast -- although not yet actual -- goldmine that China supposedly represents. For that reason, and in honor of the late Mr. Frawley, I will continue to support Google and avoid Bing because (1) I will not aid and abet censors and (2) as with Gillette blades, I am happy with the product.

I suggest that you, dear reader, do the same: Make Microsoft and Yahoo and all the other American companies willing to play thug for the Chinese government decide between the Chinese and the American markets -- or, to put it another way, between making a buck and doing the right thing.

In a week or so, I'll Google to see what those companies have done.

By Richard Cohen  | March 24, 2010; 12:24 PM ET
Categories:  Cohen  | Tags:  Richard Cohen  
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Well said, Mr. Cohen. I'm appalled that even after all of the software piracy that Microsoft ensures at the hands of Chinese nationals that it would continue to do business there -- and to tacitly condone censorship and human rights abuses to do so.

I have always use Microsoft products, but this week's decision by Google has made me see them in a different light. I am now more open to buying Google products, especially when they compete with Microsoft and are of comparable quality.

I don't buy gas at Citgo because of their willingness to look the other way while Hugo Chavez builds an authoritarian regime in Venezuela. Why shouldn't I take the same tack with companies that look the other way from censorship and human rights abuses in China?

Posted by: BurgundyNGold | March 24, 2010 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I too use the old style single Gillatte razor blade or equivalent but the screw threads that tightening up the blade will not last very long and no body sells that any more. Back to the topic. Not many of the 1.3 billion Chinese care to know about the Tiananmen event except those who were related to it. Every computer in the world are susceptable to be or has been hacked. So what is the fuss with Google. If doing business in China is fraught with danger, then why so many American name brand companies are so enthusiastic to set up shop doing business in CHina? Google kowtows to US NSA to allow NSA to monitor USA internet. Allowing China to do the same would create a conflict of security and interest between NSA and Chinese. So Google would rather give up the lesser profitable China market rather than the more profitable larger USA market. My post is just to clarify your points.

Posted by: thmak | March 24, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, your logic is quite true in a sense. China does indeed censor things, but then so do the Americans. I'm sure you've heard of the Bush memo's. Released under the Obama Administration, it was only after strong Democratic support for transparency that they were able to keep them from being Redacted.
Anyway's Google only pulled out of China because its primary income group, the Americans, have a very negative view of China. The American government has commited more than its share of atrocities, yet its only b/c the money's in America that Google didn't leave that place.

Posted by: Impartial3 | March 24, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

My great fear is that Microsoft will not do the right thing on this matter and will allow itself to be used as a pawn in Mainland China for profit, and that they will censor fundamentally pertinent information from the citizens of China. If they do, the idea of a boycott of all things Microsoft should be taken very, very seriously. If they want the freedom to do business in China, we should most certainly punish them in their bank account....maybe they will listen to reason then...

The Western World should follow developments closely in relation to this aspect of this story. Google has stepped up and done what they should have insisted on doing before the recent fiasco took place... One way or another, the Communist Party in China needs to do the right thing and allow for an opposition, and a free flow of information in regards to its own history, the June 4th incident included. For crying out loud people are still in jail over the Massacre, and we still do not know what numbers we are dealing with in terms of the government sponsored murders...

No one on this side of the pond should think that we live in wonderland, nor that Big Business in Canada or the USA does not put up intellectual borders in relation to how our societies function. For instance, in Canada the vast majority have never heard of our most influential lobby group, known as the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. These folks administer 850 billion in revenue and over 4.5 trillion in assets. The situation is ludicrous up here.

In the States, you have your own little known business lobby group of the same sort to deal with, but that is for the citizens of the US to deal with...

The bottom line is a Canadian I have the right TO KNOW, and I have the right TO SHARE....If anyone even attempted to try and limit those freedoms of mine, they could look at the plates on a car from New Hampshire, and you'd know exactly what id be thinking, and prepared for...

Russ Johnson,

Posted by: russjohn23 | March 24, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Don't be naive. Google is all business. EBay, Yahoo and others have withdrawn from other countries in the past, with zero fanfare. Google went public with its decision first before alerting China and it's other business partners. Anyone who knows anything about corporate PR would tell you it's highly unorthodox, if not bizarre. Insiders later confided that, Google would have handled it very differently if they were to start all over again.

Posted by: tom616 | March 24, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Puts me in mind of the Woody Allen character who was accused of being "jejune". He respond, "No I'm not. I'm very june."

Posted by: JoeODonnell | March 24, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Same goes for Rupert Murdoch's Sky News. He lets the Chinese gov't censure stories that are not favorable to them.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | March 24, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Then should we stop using Gillette razor and blades since they are made in China. The article never mentioned that Google ( has been losing grounds to Baidu simply because they did not (would not) adapt to the needs of the Chinese people. It was a Google business blunder as it is now. It is extremely naive to believe that China (a country of billions) will submit to the demands of a few American companies. This move by Google and other companies has helped China to become more self-sufficent. At the end, who do you think will lose.

Posted by: foreel | March 24, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

To Russ Jonhson: You don't have the right to deprive Microsoft the right and freedom to do business in China. If people boycot MS, they will be excluded from the internet and will not be able to access any information. In so doing, you commit censorship against MS. The bottom line is this, if you claim your freedom, then other can also claim theirs and don't you ever dare to try to deprive other from exercising their freedom. You don't have the monopoly on freedom.

Posted by: thmak | March 24, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Dear Thmak,

"To Russ Johnson: You don't have the right to deprive Microsoft the right and freedom to do business in China."

You are absolutely right, I do not have the right to deprive Microsoft of the right and freedom to do business in China. However, based on the fact that in the States you are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech, and I am guaranteed the right to freedom of expression, it would seem obvious that I DO HAVE THE RIGHT to to my darndest not to line their pockets with cash.

Im really not sure I grasp where you are coming from on this. If I do not believe in someone, I dont vote for them. If corporations are deemed "persons" under the law, it would seem perfectly reasonable to suggest not paying that "person" with my FREE dollars to continue in behavior I do not agree with. I do not agree with Microsoft accepting a lie by ommission-history-telling in China. You are free to agree with it. I am free to argue the point, as are you. Where is the censorship?

You vote with your voice, ballot and dollars, Ill vote with mine.

To make myself perfectly clear, im not depriving anyone of their freedom to choose anything. This is simply a peaceful, non-violent way to sending Microsoft a very strong message. Its like the man said:

(MLK Jr, the night before he was shot dead in Memphis, to a crowded church audience, in a speech entitled "Ive been to the Mountaintop").

"And so, as a result of this, we are asking you tonight, to go out and tell your neighbors not to buy Coca-Cola in Memphis. Go by and tell them not to buy Sealtest milk. Tell them not to buy what is the other bread? Wonder Bread. And what is the other bread company, Jesse? Tell them not to buy Hart's bread. As Jesse Jackson has said, up to now, only the garbage men have been feeling pain; now we must kind of redistribute the pain. We are choosing these companies because they haven't been fair in their hiring policies; and we are choosing them because they can begin the process of saying, they are going to support the needs and the rights of these men who are on strike. And then they can move on downtown and tell Mayor Loeb to do what is right."

Posted by: russjohn23 | March 24, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Do The Right Thing. A fine idea.
When I learned that the US Chamber of Commerce, an organization that one might assume is non-partisan, is planning to spend upwards of $50M this year to defeat Democrats in Congress, I immediately thought BOYCOTT. Avoiding Chamber businesses myself will be easy, the only sacrifice will be to restaurants.
A little planning to spread my beliefs is now required.

Posted by: rbdave | March 24, 2010 10:04 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: pl1123 | March 24, 2010 10:06 PM | Report abuse

Google Official Calls for Action on Web Restrictions
March 24, 2010 The New York Times

A top Google executive on Wednesday called for new rules to crack down on governments that filter the Internet, saying the practice was hindering international trade.

He said censorship had become more than a human rights issue and was hurting profit for foreign companies.
Google will keep their "research" center in China. Cheap labor saves Google money. Just like the large number of foreign labor on visas Google uses here in the United States.

One tires of the sanctimonious song of Google, a company that is one of the leaders in using cheap foreign labor instead of Americans.

In a totalitarian nation like China imagine the widespread riots and national unrest if the Chinese government simply allowed Chinese companies to give Chinese jobs to foreign devils.

Here in the United States, Americans accept massive unemployment like sheep while American companies such as Google continue to replace every American they can with cheap foreign labor.

And now Google is being holier than thou to try to protect their profits. Instead of gun boats to China perhaps the United States should send the gun boats to Google and other American companies that destroy our economy by sending American jobs to cheap overseas labor.

Posted by: bsallamack | March 25, 2010 1:25 AM | Report abuse

We all have a choice between good and evil, responsible and corrupt, the good, righteous and just versus the punget and reprehensible.

In Virginia; I love Ken Cuccinelli. As a military veteran who’s has successfully fought against the forces of evil that threaten our country and freedom nothing gets my blood boiling like the homegrown evil racist, homophobic, rich man/insurance/oil/coal/Tobacco/Banking industry puppet that Ken Cuccinelli is. Ken is making a career of wasting taxpayer money in frivolous lawsuits while neglecting protecting the citizen taxpayers of Virginia from criminals, polluters, and corrupt banking practices. I love Cuccinelli because nothing brings out the heroes like the stark face of evil, corrupt racist fascism that is Ken Cuccinelli.

I am an independent voting veteran who has served my country with honor to protect our freedoms. I find newly elected VA attorney general Ken Cuccinelli's recent actions of filing lawsuits denying the science of climate change, seeking to bar people from receiving affordable health care, and limiting schools from adopting anti discrimination policies to be a total waste of taxpayer resources. In addition, his alliance and frequent advocacy for the Tea party movement, which has demonstrated widespread racism and verbal assaults against women, children and elected officials is a slap in the face of all veterans who serve our country.

The primary funding sources for the Tea Party are two conservative groups: Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks which receive substantial funding from David Koch of Koch Industries, the largest privately-held energy company in the country, and the conservative Koch Family Foundations. Koch industries are responsible for hundreds of Oil spills spread over multiple states.

Posted by: liveride | March 25, 2010 1:49 AM | Report abuse

I think this is strictly google's business decision to pull out from China because their query share has been dipping fast. They are just trying to pull a publicity stunt. They still try to remain in China for Android phone, right? Although I think Google has mishandled this PR stunt that big china mobile services are distincing themselves from Android. Google must be beginning to regret now.

Posted by: OpenMind3 | March 25, 2010 3:23 AM | Report abuse

Firstly it's "don't be evil", but more importantly, I find it bizarre, that anyone here thinks that google is pulling out of China for business reasons,(i.e. uncompetitive).
They are either victims of Chinese propoganda, or a pretentious internet troll who criticizes to try to sound semi-intelligent (unsuccessfully). To clarify, in what universe is potentially giving up about 300M-600M profits a pure cynical business decision, ( thats incidentally about half of what Gillette makes annually (, unless you are a genetic hybrid of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and the Sultan of Brunei, to dismiss google's profits in China as chump change is ridiculously naive at best, and as for google coming second to Baidu, OOOHHH, honestly, it is nothing but a cheap rip off of google (look it up, it looks practically the same, i.e. white background, minimal clutter etc) it is a small local search engine, that is successful only through plagiarism, Kowtowing to communist dictators, and appealing to Chinese xenophobia (it's ads feature a "westerner" being mocked for pretending to be Chinese) If you honestly think that Google is jealous of Baidu, then think again, internationally Google is still the best and coming second in China isn't too shabby.

Posted by: Ulasem | March 25, 2010 4:52 AM | Report abuse

Google's slogan, "Don't Be Evil" is designed to help keep the employees from hacking the company to shreds.

Posted by: blasmaic | March 25, 2010 5:08 AM | Report abuse

Besides sticking with Google search I have just switched browser over to Google Chrome and like it a lot. When Google OS comes out for my laptop I will go with that too.

Posted by: barrylarryandtimmy | March 25, 2010 5:44 AM | Report abuse

OpenMind3, a quick search didn't turn up any results I can point you to, but I *think* Google itself isn't selling the Android, but selling it to companies that turn around and resell it.

One point no comment here has mentioned is that not only is Beijing giving Baidu significant support (and has been doing a long while), but that it has actively -- reportedly -- interfered with Google. For instance, I've read that some Chinese companies considering advertising on Google services have sometimes been warned off, or have chosen -- on their own, granted -- not to advertise on any Google service out of fear of bring down Beijing's wrath.

I don't know if the 300m-600m figure another contributor here mentions is significant in Googleverse or not; I did read the other day that any business losses there, let's see, I think the spokesperson for Google was quoted as saying "not material" to Google's global profits. But that might be like a husband trying to reassure his wife, "Don't worry about my lung cancer, Honey -- it's just in one lung." In any case, I bet that number causes Google's accountants to wince big time.

Something I've wondered about some people's attitudes towards Google is the same question I've had about some attitudes towards a few other companies, most notably Yahoo! Search, Starbucks, Walmart, and McDonald's. I don't hear people attacking other coffee chains (I can't think of any comparable to name right this second), nor about Target, nor about Burger King. What is it about the four attacked companies I listed that draws attacks to them but not to their direct competitors? Is it because they're the biggest?

By the way, there's another story is today's Washington Post reporting that GoDaddy has announced it's halting registering .cn domains -- domains in China. I don't know if they're following Google's lead or not, but one can hope so.

Posted by: MekhongKurt1 | March 25, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

as a foreigner who live in China for a couple of years I can say that i hardly saw any chinese using google, maybe except for some students that have to find materials for classes or so. most of the chinese people in big cities (Bj. , Shanghai) see this topic(google leving china) irelevant.
from my point of view, as long as google made the deal with chinese autorities from the beginning - it's quite inapropriate to talk about principals (or good-evil fight) now. google had always censored the results of the search in china, and if it is suddenly refusing doing it now, it means that there are some other reasons than "fight against evil"

Posted by: Ariman | March 25, 2010 7:37 AM | Report abuse

It's not just about censorship, but that's a big part of it. Google gave China a fair choice with the move to Hong Kong. It was about the most decent thing they could do. They could have pulled out completely.

For all that matter they could censor China themselves if they wanted to. They are a private company, and not required to do anything with information they don't wish to do with it. They could have choses to make China not exist to the outside world. Obviously they haven't taken that course. However it's foolish of the CCP to think that it has all the advantages in this situation.

Posted by: Nymous | March 25, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Good call Cohen. I will look for your column next, calling for Google et al to pull out of Israel.

No reason to prop up an apartheid embracing country.

Posted by: RandomGuy | March 25, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I'm still amazed that people are treating Google like a white knight over this. Google supported the Great Firewall of China for years -- actively and in cooperation with the Chinese government. They did so in direct contravention of their own "Do No Evil" motto, under the laughable premise that "some" information for the Chinese people was better than nothing (normal people call that propaganda). Google was there for money, pure and simple.

They only backed out of China after the Chinese turned on them and started hacking user accounts and disrupting their business. It wasn't like they suddenly had a corporate change of heart.

Remember: Google thinks nothing of driving up your driveway in a car covered in cameras and filming your private property to post on the internet -- activities that if our own government tried to do would result in blood in the streets. It's ridiculous to not only give them a pass but to cheer for them for finally doing something they should have done from the start.

Posted by: zippyspeed | March 25, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Let me get this straight.

A large corporation deliberately chucked half a bil in pocket and a future share of a huge market because they actually believe and stand by their motto?

Cynics may claim it's a PR stunt but this is unprecedented and it's a lot of real money. And what's wrong with PR? Google should trumpet this as loudly as they can and get as much mileage out of it as possible because not only is this a wonderful thing to do, it might start the ball rolling toward the next eruption of progress in China. Especially if, as Mr. Cohen suggests, other companies fall in line (and other columnists and opinion makers follow his lead).

In the current miserable mean-spirited climate here in Washington, it's good to see anything not be evil but to see anyone or anything stand by it's principles warms my heart like nothing I've seen in ages. Bravo Google!

Posted by: joebanks | March 25, 2010 8:28 AM | Report abuse

A factual clarification: from the moment Google moved its servers to HK, sensitive search results were blocked by PRC firewalls. This is a simple fact, one that Google was aware of before the move, and one which has already been reported on by the media.

At no point did the move 'evade Chinese censorship'. This raises the question why Google's PR (via its online evil meter) continues to suggest that this was a successful move to evade Chinese censorship?

If Google wants to provide the Chinese uncensored results, why has it not taken the simple (and free) step of offering a secure, encrypted SSL (https) connection to its servers in HK? It already processes gmail that way.

Do its continuing mainland business interests prevent it from offering this simple, secure access to uncensored search results to mainland netizens? If so, one might conclude that its business interests continue to trump its moral sensibilities.

Posted by: jesseflick | March 25, 2010 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Cohen,

I thank you on behalf of my Chinese brothers for boycotting MS.
I was disgusted with Yahoo when the news came that their HK office collaborated with China and helped putting the two dissidents to jail. And now I use Google’s gmail as my main account and avoid using yahoo search altogether. Should there be enough forces out in the net space, MS surly would feel the pressure. And maybe will start doing what they do best, copying Google, and leave China…not. The problem is there are too many US companies to boycott; Cisco is responsible for the building of the ‘Great Chinese Firewall’ and so many others companies’ services and products that I have to stop using that I don’t know where to start, but I do know that my life of conveniences would come to a squeaking halt if I follow through. US and China are now join at the hips, their pain will become our pain, and how much are we willing to sacrifice?

China is run by thugs and thieves. Not only US know it but virtually everyone else knows it too. Even your avg. cheap Chinese labors knows it, but they won’t and can’t do anything about it. They just thankful they are not in labor camps and they can earn enough to feed their families. Google’s departure will not have much meaning to them individually, but, it will as whole to China’s society. They will talk about this. The academies will feel the pain mostly and hopefully they will keep the conversation alive.

Is Google’s decision a business one? It certainly is, but they also sacrificed much at the horizon as the pending deal with China Telecom collapses and other deals are now dead in the water as no profit driven Chinese businesses are willing to risks of dealing with Google and redirect the wrath of the China Thugs at them. is already backing away. China’s fury and harsh media criticisms is a good sign that they understand the damage Google can cause and trying to contain it. But the funny thing is, had Google chosen to stay away from the beg., the awareness and effect on China’s media censorship would have been muted and insignificant.

As for the post by bsallamac: “Google using cheap labors to take away US jobs” is lunacy. I am not connected to Google in anyway, but I do know they are not paying dirt for all the R&D services in China, and how many Google jobs are there in China? Most of them have to do with Chinese Languages stuff. I am sure Google will hire you in a heart beat if you are qualified. All the ‘Foreign’ programmers and engineers Google hired in US are normal, top of line paying jobs that helps US prosper as US gov. and businesses deals with the shortage of qualified IT professionals.

Posted by: USChinaHypocrite | March 25, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Google has less than 2% of its revenue at stake in this move with China. Go daddy is in a similar situation (source: NPR news hour). Microsoft obviously has more at stake given their operating systems and applications are already big money makers in China.

They're not stupid. Why simply exit on business grounds when you could act morally superior, take only a small short term loss that would stop a greater loss from customers who don't like what you do in china? Seems like business to me.

Before exulting Google's virtues, remember that this is a moral/business. Each company entered the market calculating their profit would be far greater than the bow to chinese governmental restrictions. There is where they are "guilty". Because Google decided to leave at this point is simply a business decision; like Microsoft's stay.

Posted by: dmorhar1976 | March 25, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I suggest you stop buying products at Wal-Mart since they have over 10,000 suppliers in China.

Posted by: shewholives | March 25, 2010 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Cohen's diatribe is just another usual American bias against anything foreign...

Posted by: mapleleaf3 | March 25, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Google acted rationally. Period. The Chinese government proved itself inhospitable to Google and Google decided they had had enough of the insanity. If the Chinese government follows through on its threat to require foreign companies to share intellectual property with Chinese companies, we will see more of the same.

Posted by: tiffany33 | March 25, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Totally agreed! It is about time that not only the IT industry, but also the manufacturing industry needs to take a stand against the Chinese government - not the people.

Just imagine, if the US firms have the courage to keep Wall Street at bay - come together and pull out of China and re-assure the Chinese public that they will come back. It will be a boost to the democratic movement. About time.. may be wishful thinking.. but atleast Google did it albeit a little late..

Posted by: NOVAResident | March 25, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Great commentary Mr. Cohen. This is yet another evidence of shamelessness of Microsoft. They want to capitalize on the void to be created by Google's departure. Talk about greed! I guess Microsoft really needs Chinese money.

Posted by: mahbub19702002 | March 25, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen: I agree with your premise, if you don't like a company's politics, don't buy their product. That's why I stopped buying all GE products several years ago. As for BING vs GOOGLE, I don't care. If our government thinks there's no problem with China financing our debt, for which they are paid interest, why should be argue about what Microsoft does in China. By the way, do you buy any products made in China?

Posted by: termiteavenger | March 25, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Good job Mr Cohen. However you fail to mention the US Governments role in dealing with China. By doing business with China doesn't the US government indirectly support censorship and the thugs who impose it on the Chinese population?

Posted by: tony12 | March 25, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

Microsoft will not follow Google's lead. MS has long standing history in its business practices- lie, cheat, steal- anything to win. At MS, its only about winning, ethics are not part of the picture.
Here is some documentation on MS's truly astonishing and ethic-less business practices, from the US justice department.

Posted by: dfolk1 | March 25, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to Brin and Google for letting conscience triumph over coin. Looking at the good work done by the Gates Foundation, Bing could be the next loss for China. Too bad our greedy bankers have made TARP repayment (not lending consumers nor small business causing unemployment) paid by consumers using credit cards for financing, don't have that same conscience.

Posted by: jameschirico | March 25, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

It's kind of interesting that this has put the Chinese government in the position of enforcing any restriction we'd like to make on the Chinese people's access to information. I mean, if there's anything we don't want them to know about, from technology to fashion or anything else, all we have to do is include some opinion they don't like. They will do the rest. So, say, if we put "Free Tibet" or "Remember the Tiananmen massacre" on a web page about technology, then that technology page is off-limits in China. Might be interesting if we can start to make China pay in terms of access to the latest tech information for the backwards approach to politics.

Posted by: jonawebb | March 25, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Google didnt want to yield control over the minds of Chinese to the government

Posted by: akula | March 25, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Then should we stop using Gillette razor and blades since they are made in China. The article never mentioned that Google ( has been losing grounds to Baidu simply because they did not (would not) adapt to the needs of the Chinese people. It was a Google business blunder as it is now. It is extremely naive to believe that China (a country of billions) will submit to the demands of a few American companies. This move by Google and other companies has helped China to become more self-sufficent. At the end, who do you think will lose.

Posted by: foreel


Google has a hefty stake in Baidu. The Chinese citizens are being had by appealing to nationalist tendencies. It is primarily a PR stunt, but a worthy one at that. Google's name shouldn't be soiled with censorship even if they make money off of it with a stake in another company that does it.

Posted by: theobserver4 | March 25, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Dear Russ Johnson: In the States, the right to freedom of speech and expression is limited by volumes upon volumes of law and regulations and any speech that endangers US national security is severly punished. Freedom is not that free.
WP and its editorial has been publishing anti-China articles for years. That means WP has been cencoring pro-China articles for years. There are tons of events that have happened in China. For Google to allow one event to be searched and not other means Google exercise censorship itself. If Google can do that, China can do too. Its like the man said:
(MLK Jr, the night before he was shot dead in Memphis, to a crowded church audience, in a speech entitled "Ive been to the Mountaintop"). MLK was shot because he exercised his freedom in USA and the shooter exercised his freedom of protest too. Both Chinese and AMericans can have their freedom as long ss they are not against national security.

Posted by: thmak | March 25, 2010 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Something I've wondered about some people's attitudes towards Google is the same question I've had about some attitudes towards a few other companies, most notably Yahoo! Search, Starbucks, Walmart, and McDonald's. I don't hear people attacking other coffee chains (I can't think of any comparable to name right this second), nor about Target, nor about Burger King. What is it about the four attacked companies I listed that draws attacks to them but not to their direct competitors? Is it because they're the biggest?


I don't search from Yahoo (or have email) due to their privacy snafus, don't buy from Walmart due to their abusive labor practices and supplier exploitation, and McDonalds due to the fact that their food is equivalent to diarrhea (as is Burger King).

Starbucks does some decent things with fair trade coffee so they're not boycotted. Target doesn't mistreat their employees like Walmart does so I occassionaly buy from them as well.

Avoiding anything made in China or Indonesia due to labor practices? It's next to impossible. There's a Tshirt company that employs their textile people domestically, but I don't wear tshirts to work. You have to vote with your dollars.........

Posted by: theobserver4 | March 25, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

You don’t even look like shaved in the photo. How could I believe anything you said?

Posted by: shawnp220 | March 25, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

You don’t even look like shaved in the photo. How could I believe anything you said?

Posted by: shawnp220 | March 25, 2010 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Some American people said that Google's withdraw from China leaves Chinese people in the darkness. As a Chinese I am telling you American: Don't worry! We Chinese have lived in darkness for over 5000 years even before America was born. We Chinese have got used to this kind of darkness and would lost anywhere. You American better focuse your tasks, like economy recovery, healthcare reform, etc.

As to the "darkness theory", I just wonder whether US and the world were also in darkness before Google was invented. If so, Google must be the God and those who invented Google must be God's fathers or Super-God.

Posted by: hui_eagle | March 25, 2010 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Interesting- if you really feel Google is doing the right thing, use them. Personally I think they are using the circumstances.

Go ahead, run all of your work on Google apps, run all of your calls through their phone app, Googlize yourself.

Sooner or later Google is either going to have a major snafu, or someone will hack them big time.

When that happens just be prepared for the possibility that everything you have ever produced w/ their apps, searched for on their site, or call you have made through their phone application will become public.

The amount of data Google collects on their users is staggering. Isn't privacy a basic human right? Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to praise.

Posted by: BEEPEE | March 25, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Google's defiance of China's censorship mandate illustrates the power of corporate social responsibility initiatives to influence and reshape the repressive policies of authoritarian regimes. Secretary Clinton's recent remarks about the information curtain dividing the world, reminded me of the apartheid era where much greater injustice and unspeakable acts against humanity were challenged and ultimately overcome through the use of corporate codes of conduct.

Given the success of codes of conduct in ending apartheid, we should look at applying the same principles to lift the information curtain China and in other repressive countries.

This was the subject of an article on the International Business Law Advisor---The Great Firewall of China: How Lessons from the Apartheid Era Can Lift the Information Curtain.

Posted by: Scueto | March 25, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Do most of the posters here have such a short memory span that they forget the OTHER reason Google is not happy about the Chinese business practices?

The Chinese government infiltraited, spied on Google and stole account information from them. Nowhere did Google sign up for being used as a spy for China to track down their anti-government groups.

This is what I think was the last straw for them and then they brought up their other long standing grievance for being a party to their censorship.

Posted by: theAnswerIs42 | March 25, 2010 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I think our democratic american should pay more attention to our own goverment, while keep our eyes on other governments. How does what google is doing to change/benefit American here? Is it going to hurt Chinese people at all? I doubt it. At most just few days nonsense on street. It'll instead will give them more benefits, instead harm.

Posted by: steveZ2 | March 25, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

I steal your satellite
I want your wife to be my
Baby tonight, baby tonight

I choose to steal what you chose to show
And you know I will not apologize
You're mine for the taking
I'm making a career of evil

Pay me I'll be your surgeon
I'd like to pick your brain
Capture you inject you
Leave you kneeling in the rain

It almost killed me when she had to apologize. That will never happen again. They're trying to sell jobs and give away health care. Total kaoss.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 25, 2010 4:24 PM | Report abuse

OK Kids, here is a pop-quiz on global economics:

1. is it the job of google (and other corporations) to obey the laws of China?
2. is it the job of google to apply diplomatic pressure in the political interests of the U.S.?
3. does google's slogan of "do no evil" mean they are neutral in ethics?
4. does google's slogan of "do no evil" apply to China's human rights?
5. now that the Supreme Court has given some Free Speech rights to google, can google speak freely in China?
6. China is a sovereign nation, a member in good standing in the United Nations, and not listed as "terrorist state" by the U.S. government.
7. China manufacturers most of my clothing, shoes, televisions, appliances, etc.
8. China has funded the U.S. treasury (along with U.S. taxpayers)
9. The U.S. is a debtor nation
10. Cohen's moral lecturing is questionable

If you answered "yes" to more than 5 of the above, you can "lay down your guns."

Posted by: rmorris391 | March 25, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Is anyone here suspicious of astroturfing by the Chinese government? I've noticed that in the comments sections of most China-related articles (especially those which portray China in a negative light) there are always a ton of comments with essentially the same talking point (in this case, that Google's decision was a business one, plus comments on the "rights" of Chinese consumers). Anyone else here notice the same thing?

Posted by: none57 | March 25, 2010 8:38 PM | Report abuse

May be too much political sensitive information does impede social stability if that’s objective of the Chinese government. On the run up to the Iraq war, did we hear any contradicting information from the Post or the Bush Administration? Didn’t the dissidents such as Wilson got shut down and we hear mostly Iraq war would be fast and easy, WMD everywhere type of news?

My point is not to over analyze and radicalize Google vs China incident. It may as well be Mr. Brin vs the Chinese government and he uses Google as the channel. While I cherish his strong personal conviction, I do not like the approach since Google is a public company with many constituents and share holders. It is just like the neo-conservatives use US military power to accomplish their ideology.

Posted by: in_starbucks | March 25, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps we should all follow suit and avoid supporting doing business in China altogether. I'll be writing a book soon about how to get by naked, without furniture, or a place to live that has appliances for that matter. I guess we can start by not using the internet, so after this post.

Posted by: joshmw | March 25, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Cohen, I really don't know if it is a good idea (or not) to censor the censors. I do get a kick out of sneaking pictures of "Tank man" through I must admit. To me, people need to take the good with the bad. And no one guides my hands on the keyboard but me. I can either search for porn (nature's art I call it) or the history of Nazism.

Speaking of which, in this current day Cold-War against propaganda and conspiracy theorists, there is a tremendous amount of information on the internet now concerning theories, applications and defenses against the smoke-n-mirrors created by the usual suspects. It's all there from the invention of the precepts of the Zionist Elders to all the Nazi Propaganda to be re-examined on the Calvin website to independent professional and laymen discoveries into the nuts and bolts of inventing and maintaining illusions such as a favorite essay of mine on Psycho-Marxism.

I have tried to state in the past that information is basically useless unless that information is applied or in the terms of Physics W=F x D, results as work (W) resultant through the application (F) of information (D). So even though the information age has grown tremendously, what are we doing with all of that information ?

Speaking of growth, some societies may not have matured to a responsibility level at which the internet is applicable, usable and perhaps detrimental at their current stage of development. In other words, do we really want to give a kid a real handgun to play with ? I dunno.

It is really a good feeling being obsolete. Sometimes I dream about the old days in the office but then again, I remember all of that noise of papers being shuffled. Oh well, perhaps I will pick up a new hobby or two like, I dunno, writing my memoirs, for posterity of course. I never really wanted to dissent anyway.

Good-luck !!!

Posted by: truthhurts | March 25, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

China makes it very difficult for foreign firms to do business in her country. They have two sets of laws, one for Chinese corporations (often owned by the state), and one for foreign companies. Be it currency manipulation or export subsidies to Chinese firms, China has outwitted America and the West at every turn in the great trading game. The Chinese Communist Party could simply be named the Chinese Mercantile Party. Google has just learned that the supposed goldmine Western firms believed China to be is an illusion. China is a land where one political party, the Communists, control the country and where the judiciary is just an extension of the party. Westerners still wanting to see something else, that they believe China is somehow "moving" towards more openness or more democracy, are simply living in a delusion.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | March 25, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

//I suggest that you, dear reader, do the same: Make Microsoft and Yahoo and all the other American companies willing to play thug for the Chinese government decide between the Chinese and the American markets//

Tough call. That would mean not buying practically anything. The USA has made China our manufacturing base. We don't and can't make things anymore. Instead we pay billions to China to make those things for us, who pay .40c an hour, have no labor laws and are a One Party State. Every buck we spend goes into their pockets.

I blame the US politicians for allowing our companies to relocate to China and import their junk back here without a serious tariff. If we charged a good 30% import fee or tariff, we would still have industries, millions in work and no begging to China for money.

So if you want to target US-Chinese start with Wal-Mart and go down the list of hundreds of thousands of so called American companies in China. Good luck.

Posted by: Mnnngj | March 25, 2010 11:47 PM | Report abuse

May I assume that you are equating one man's contributions to "various right-wing causes" with the abuses of the Communist Chinese government? What specious (bing that) argument.

Posted by: meruhl | March 27, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

The Internet is a symbol and mean of practicing freedom. It looses it's core value if censored, even partially. I agree 100%.

Posted by: muhammadayadhussein | March 30, 2010 3:41 AM | Report abuse

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