Google vs. China: Claws Come Out, Search Giant Sounds Like Sovereign Nation

China Google

The spat between Google and the Chinese government has been rumbling along for weeks, but just now it's been elevated to "fist fight" status: The inevitable strongly-worded Chinese warning about "consequences" has arrived.

The warning came today from the Minister of Industry and IT, Li Yizhong, who was speaking to reporters at the annual National People's Congress meeting. Li was, of course, diplomatic about the matter and noted that the government does actually support Google in its efforts to "expand its business and market share in China."

But then the gloves came off: "If [Google] violates Chinese laws it would be unfriendly and irresponsible and [it] will definitely be responsible for the consequences." This is the most direct threat yet toward the global search engine giant, and highlights that the Chinese government is not going to budge one millimeter from its official legal position. If Google, for whatever reason, decides to stop censoring its search results which it currently does to comply with the strict Dark Ages-style active censorship laws the Chinese demand, then China will simply snip off access to Google, and really won't care about the matter.

Basically, this seems to be the start of the Chinese lock-down. It comes after months of posturing which started with Google's (and others) accusations of serious hacking attempts from China, possibly with state complicity, and which has recently got confusing over whether or not Google and China are in direct dialog. Google may well have threatened to withdraw from China, after first uncensoring its search engine...but as of yet it appears to have made no active moves to enact the threats. And maybe that's the point—it's been being inscrutable, and waiting for exactly this new Chinese posturing.

And this almost makes it seem like Google's behaving with the same diplomatic grace and guile of a real nation. Which is amusing, given the slightly fudged and hands-off handling the actual U.S. government is exhibiting in its dealings with this case—demonstrated neatly by a new official State Department report that condemns China's "numerous and serious" rights abuses, but which is merely a paper threat. Does Google have more direct impact on human rights and freedoms in China than the Obama Administration? That's a scary thought. We'll all have to see what the next plays are in the Google-China battle to find out.

[Via Yahoo, Breitbart]

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  • Frank Burns

    I think Google or the owners of Google fully respect Chinese Laws, it's customs and it's government and recognizes that changes need to be made where both parties can find an agreeable acceptance of the current situation.
    Our whole world is changing and we need above all, to work with one another in all facets.
    Do you remember when they tore down the Berlin Wall?
    Isn't it about time we pull down all of the barriers that restricts us from communicating decently with a quiet voice and look more towards how we're going to combat climate change and the real challenges in life that lay before our feet. Can we move forward as a human race and learn from each other, I hope so.

  • Jaims K.J.

    If market dynamics are any indication, (around 300 million Cinese spend about 70% of their leisure time online )Google is likely to win. If G does not, then another Search Engine (Chinese Govt-supported initially) will take over.
    K.J. Jaims, Manipal, India

  • Gregory Ferenstein

    @Jym, why do you think Google has influential over China? Why is it more valuable to the Chinese government than other search engines already in China?


  • brian fidler

    Take them on big G!

    And can we host the 2020 Olympics on Google's campus?

  • Chris Reich

    I sincerely hope our government is covertly supporting and encouraging Google. China is a rising dragon and as complacent as Americans may be, few would enjoy living in a world controlled by China.

    China is a country that never abandoned the cult of personality and many, if not most Chinese, still revere Mao despite the deaths of 30 million people.


    Chris Reich

  • Jym Allyn

    "Technology is the use of increasingly accurate, self-evident, and reproducible information to replace energy and matter. The benefit of technology is NOT in what it lets people accomplish, but in how it improves the character of people."

    Google will beat the crap out of China.

    And we will all be better for it.