Hackers turned Google's corporate site into a dog's dinner this morning, redirecting visitors to the executive page to its Chinese site. Google has since resolved the issue, but it reinforces the general belief that the gloves are well and truly off, two days after the company decided to stop censoring content on its Google China site.
While the U.S. Government is attempting to stay well and truly out of the fight, claiming that the Sino-American relationship was strong enough to withstand any dogfight between Google and the Chinese government, it didn't stop China's media from accusing Google of having a cosy relationship with U.S. spy agencies. As if that wasn't bad enough, Google's share price fell by 1.5%, while that of its Chinese rival, Baidu, rose by 2.6%, putting it above the U.S. search giant for the first time.
Sergey Brin, Google's co-founder, is hoping that relations will be restored and that the company will, at some point, return to China but not at the expense of human rights over trade. "It touches me more than other people, having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life," he said, going on the attack against Microsoft. "As I understand, they have effectively no market share, so they essentially spoke against freedom of speech and human rights simply in order to contradict Google."
Monday's decision by Google has left the majority of Chinese angry and they are boycotting the company's products--to say that shares in jingoistic self-righteousness are going through the roof in China would not be an understatement. Even Hong Kong's wealthiest man, Li Ka-Shing, has said that he will not be using Google's products in the future. Google is still catering to its Chinese users, some of whom welcome its new, uncensored version. Last night, the company left a statement on one of its blogs to show its Chinese users which of its services were available to them.
So, where next for both parties? Judging by the increasing anti-Google feeling amongst the Chinese, the authorities must be hoping that the country's nationalistic pride will do a good enough job against the Google beast to put China's stance on censorship and human rights firmly in the shade. It is safe to say that the ball is not in Google's court any more--one could even argue that it never was.