Sunday, July 11, 2010

How Western companies can help crack China's Great Firewall

Washington Post
July 3, 2010

They were bold words. "We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on," a spokesman for Google blogged on Jan. 12. "We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China." Google followed these words with bold action: redirecting all users of to the uncensored results of Now it may be paying the price. Its license as an Internet content provider in China was up for renewal on June 30, and China has indicated that the automatic redirection is unacceptable.

Google's response has been to replace its instant forwarding with a "landing page," a site that offers only noncensored services such as music and translation and links to for all search functions, a measure that it hopes complies with Chinese law while upholding its resolution to avoid censorship. The ball now lies in China's court. But whether or not the Chinese government renews Google's license, Google's dance with China over the past six months will offer a powerful lesson to other Western companies that enter the tempting Chinese market of 1.3 billion people.