Google seems to be on the way to becoming fully assimilated with China’s culture. The company allowed for a compromise with the Chinese government in order to gain a footing on the world’s biggest market. Some of the said compromises necessitated removing search engine results not approved by the government; usually those with notions on freedom of speech and the democratic 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre (Lopez, Quan, & Cooper, 4).
Yahoo made the same attempt of breaking into China’s market in 1999. However, they were not successful. Cultural differences between Americans and Chinese proved to be too much of a shock for Yahoo. Some of the differences were: the Chinese’s preference for using cell phones rather than e-mails; the over-popularity of discussion boards; and piracy, which is very much widespread in China.
Form the lessons learned from Yahoo’s experience, Google opted for a different tactics: using a search engine capable of recognizing characters of Asian languages. This move resulted in a 25% share on all search engines in China (Lopez, Quan, & Cooper, 4).
But on September 3 of 2002, something unexpected happened. The Chinese government decided, without prior warning or reason, to harass companies and their CEO’s that continued to patronize Google. China also utilized what computer experts call The Great Firewall; a system that blocks search engine results for all Google users in China. But in doing so, the Firewall had created unforeseen problems: this allowed for access of backdoors on Google; Google is not within the jurisprudence of the Chinese government, since their offices were located outside of China and; they had no legal authority in stopping Google from running their search engine. Perhaps as an act of exasperation, the government simply decided on a total shut-down of Google all across China in 2002 (Lopez, Quan, &Cooper, 5).
With the Chinese population having their first taste of knowledge from the outside world, some of the government’s treasured beliefs may be in peril. Now, people are aware of the advantages of living in an open market system, with democratic ideas and laws to ensure its citizens of a more serene everyday existence. Perhaps soon enough we will be able to bear witness on the true damaging effects that the seeds of information technology had brought to China’s Communism.
In your own opinion, could China be aware of the mind opening consequences it had caused in allowing the entry of Google into their culture, even for a short while?
In your own assessment, try to identify and expound three reasons behind the Chinese government’s sudden decision in shutting down Google in 2002.
From the viewpoint of the Chinese government, with regards to the information readily available in the Web, who would you consider as a bigger threat to national security, the youth or the older generation? Why?
Lopez, J., Quan, T., & Cooper, K. The Big Disconnect, ppt.