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Google Departure from China Highly Unlikely

In follow up to Google's bold announcement yesterday that it will not be censoring its search results in China (some reports suggest this has already happened) and that it would potentially even close its operations in the country, Ian Paul writes in PC World that it is highly unlikely that Google would stop doing business in China — the largest emerging economy — anytime soon. Paul writes: "So what could Google be trying to achieve in China? It's doubtful that Chinese authorities will allow Google to run an uncensored version of its Chinese Web site. But Google's declaration, along with subsequent comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, could push China to pursue a more moderate course when it comes to Internet censorship."

Read full story: PC World

Updates:  UPDATED Jan 15, 2010 7:41 am PST
Google's about turn in China BBC, Jan.15.2010
Google attack part of widespread spying effort IDG News, Jan.13.2010
White House backs 'free Internet' in Google-China dispute AFP, Jan.13.2010
Could Google-China smackdown lead to WTO complaint? Brenden Kuerbis, Jan.13.2010

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Why not leave China? By Milton Mueller  –  Jan 13, 2010 7:08 pm PST

Sorry, but Ian Paul is no China expert. The article's assumption that no business can afford to leave China is questionable, and its assumption that jawboning by Hilary Clinton will make the Chinese Communist Party soften its censorship policies is laughable. US diplomatic pressure has never succeeded in changing anything China does. The only way to change China's approach is to generate domestic political pressure and to threaten its economic growth, and by threatening to leave, Google seems to have succeeded in doing that (see Rebecca MacKinnon's article). China needs foreign investment and it needs to be integrated into the global economy just as much as the rest of the world needs it; and if Chinese people who use Google make noise about being denied access to it it makes the consequences of China's censorship more visible to the public there. So Google's move makes sense on pragmatic grounds, if you ask me. China accounts for less than 3% of Google's revenues and doing business there can be a big hassle. The only threat the CCP will take seriously is the type of threat Google made. Good for them!

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