Google Redirects! But Will The Chinese Government Block?!

Welcome to Google China's new home.

Welcome to Google China's new home.

By now, most of you should have already heard about Google having formally withdrawn its search operations from China. This involves web, news, and image search. Moreover, they’ve redirected to their Hong Kong website.

Given that Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, is not bound under the same censorship laws as mainland China. Therefore, the Hong Kong version of Google has always returned non-manipulated search results, unlike, which Google had previously agreed to self-censor for direct access to the Chinese internet market.

For those of you who are cheering Google on for uncensoring their search results for the Chinese masses, you’re idiots. Google has done nothing of the sort. Google has simply done a three-card monte on you all. Consider the end result:

  1. Mainland Chinese users going to previously self-censored are now being redirected to the never censored
  2. But mainland Chinese netizens still cannot access content the Chinese government deems objectionable because the Great Firewall will still filter them out.
  3. This is the same scenario as before, whenever mainland Chinese netizens tried searching via or any other websites.

Yes, they’ll get uncensored search results, including images and excerpts, but when they try to click through to the actual source, they’ll get blocked by the GFW. And this is “at best”. Often, the images may not even load and the page will just hang.


  1. Google is praised by Westerners and anti-censorship foes for no longer engaging in self-censorship.
  2. Google is praised for withdrawing from evil censoring China.
  3. Google is praised for being moral, for following its moral values.

Give it a rest.

…this move changes next to nothing…

More disappointingly, leading internet and technology news blogs like Mashable and TechCrunch — both websites that should know their stuff — have not made a single mention that this move changes next to nothing for the mainland Chinese user, focusing only on Google “uncensoring” and “redirecting” to the Hong Kong site that is “outside of China’s firewall”. Such details are strictly true, but misleading. is outside China’s firewall, but the Chinese netizens aren’t. Reporting such details is fine, but of these details, what’s the significance?

For those opposed to Google engaging in self-censorship, that’s enough significance. But what of the Chinese netizens, the same netizens both Google and so many others have been clamoring that they’re fighting for? What now for the mainland Chinese internet user? What have they gained?

Let me spell it out again: They have gained no greater access to government censored material than they already had when Google was operating

Guys, let’s be clear, this is not Google lifting the veil from the eyes of Chinese internet users. This is Google taking their hand off of that veil and letting the Chinese government hold it themselves. Yes, that’s admirable in of itself, for not partaking in the state of censorship, but whereas Google once was in a position to maybe even lift up an edge furtively while the Chinese government wasn’t paying attention, or even in a position to slowly talk the Chinese government into letting up, now it has absolutely no sway. It may even have negative sway. And because of how politicized this entire affair has been, it has resulted in negative sway for everyone else in support of censorship reform, governments, NGOs, and individuals alike. allowed these other websites to remain accessible.

Previously, as long as self-censored existed, Chinese netizens could opt to go to uncensored or any other Google search property. allowed these other websites to remain accessible. With now temporarily redirecting to, Google is challenging the Chinese government to block all Google search properties, ensuring permanent darkness in Baidu for mainland Chinese netizens.

If — or when — this happens, China’s netizens lose Google’s search algorithms and search result rankings altogether, which are qualitatively different from those returned by Baidu, a search engine that doesn’t just manipulate search results in compliance with Chinese censorship policies but also manipulates them for profit1. They also lose side-door access to uncensored but GFW-filtered and etc.  Before, mainland Chinese netizens had a choice between Baidu and, and and (or Now, there is a high risk of them losing all choice.

Does anyone still think what Google has done here means anything remotely close to uncensoring the internet for Chinese netizens?

Google will let them, but will the Chinese government?

That domain name is currently redirecting users to, right? What do you think is required for that domain name to exist? An ICP license, which is about to expire. Do you think the Chinese government is going to renew it? They may revoke it at any moment now…and the redirect is gone. When that happens, mainland Google users will have to manually direct themselves to or Google will let them, but will the Chinese government?

Yes, Google has now thrown the ball back into the Chinese government’s court, challenging them to either:

  1. Accept only GFW-censored Google search; or
  2. Block all Google search.

Yes, as Rebecca MacKinnon points out, this is escalating the game of awareness: Will the Chinese government draw more attention to this issue by doing the latter? Will they do so knowing that it might lead to even more of their own citizens becoming aware of their government’s active censorship and how far their government will go to maintain that censorship?

Yes, challenging the Chinese government to do so may allow Google to indirectly cause more discontent amongst the Chinese with their government’s censorship policies.

No, I’m not certain nor even confident that this increased discontent so will lead to any major political revolution or reform on those censorship policies. There are just too many other important concerns most Chinese people have to go to war with their government over this one issue.

Three scenarios:

A. The Chinese government does nothing.

  1. Except maybe revoking or letting the ICP license for and expire, so the redirect would no longer work.
  2. But remains accessible with its non-manipulated search results, though actual access is still filtered through the GFW.
  3. Mainland Google users who henceforth begin typing “” instead of “” into their browsers may be exposed to more search results along with their corresponding excerpts and maybe images. Or not.
  4. Somewhere down the line, Chinese netizens — or maybe their children — will start asking why there is no and the story may told.
  5. As long as the government is providing everything else the Chinese want and this becomes the next human need or desire left unmet, demand for change may build up.
  6. But basically, this is the same scenario as still existing, except Google exchanges direct China search market access for the approval of human rights activists. Change in censorship will come, over time, after other broad social needs are met.

B. The Chinese government responds by blocking foreign Google search properties.

  1. This includes
  2. The Chinese government selectively allows Google’s other services in as long as they don’t break any laws themselves.
  3. The vast minority of Chinese internet users would be miffed, a portion of them hopping on their VPNs to deal with it, when it comes to web search. No critical mass achieved.
  4. Chinese netizens overall lose as an alternative search engine to Baidu but otherwise will never see anything more than what they had before. For them, the web remains as censored as it has always been.
  5. Like Scenario A, as long as other needs are met, the internet censorship issue will build up slowly over time, albeit slightly slower than in Scenario A because there’s slightly less people being exposed to what exists but cannot be accessed out there.
  6. Google loses complete China search market access in exchange for the approval of human rights activists.

C. The Chinese government loses the plot and blocks anything and everything related to Google.

  1. Chaos ensues, netizens march on the streets, recruiting the workers and peasants, marching with banners, staging sit-ins, erecting barricades, holding hunger strikes, sculpting statues, singing songs, and risk getting carted off or gunned down by mobilized military.
  2. Censorship reform is catalyzed.
  3. Or not. The Chinese, in their amazing capacity to endure, conscious of the very real progress the Chinese government has thus far delivered to them in so many other areas, decide this still isn’t big enough for them to rise up and rebel.
  4. They adapt, switch to other services, and continue with life, making the best of things.
  5. They may even begin to resent Google and “the West” for abandoning them, for not respecting their circumstances enough to work with them and instead end up being seen as working against them in the guise of working “for” them.
  6. Censorship reform may be damaged or it may just continue its merry slow course as with the above two scenarios, a course that doesn’t involve Google or “the West”. At best, Google might be remembered as having been ahead of its time. At worst, Google will be marginalized as Chinese of the future champion the cautious relaxing of their political censorship policies as having been rightfully cautious and ultimately valid because peace and stability was maintained while achieving relatively the same end.

I don’t see a realistic scenario where censorship reform is going to happen any sooner because of what Google has done today, where current Chinese netizens and their interests are actually respected and served.

Look, I’d love to be proven wrong. I’d love for this to snowball into an — ideally peaceful — quick transition towards less government censorship and greater internet freedom for the Chinese. I really would, but I’m not convinced that will be the case or is even likely.

Please convince me.



  1. Have you yet heard that Baidu allegedly confessed to accepting 3 million RMB from Sanlu over the melamine tainted baby milk power scandal? []


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  1. I don’t really understand all this posturing by Google, because it seems to me their main problem in China is intentional interruption of service on the mainland. Also the fact that the government clearly favors Chinese-owned web portals where they have admin privileges (i.e. why Youtube is down).

    Seriously – if you make more than one google image search, all of a sudden google stops working for a few minutes. Both the Chinese and English versions of google work extremely slow in China and are often unreliable – compared with Baidu which is always fast and reliable.

    This isn’t a bandwidth problem on Google’s part. Clearly some part of the black box that is the Chinese internet is selectively interrupting service, as evidenced by the fact that Gmail works perfectly fine 99% of the time.

    So this is the real problem. Clearly the government is hostile to Google, as they naturally are to any foreign-owned internet or media enterprise. They obviously want to support web portals that give them administrative powers, specifically the ability to delete content. From their perspective, this only makes sense.

    So it’s not like Google is fed up with censoring their search results, or that this is specifically about censorship persay. It’s about control of the internet.

    I’m sure if the US Constitution allowed our government to do this sort of thing, they probably would. Not necessarily for malicious purposes, either. China is a unique sort of social culture where rumors can have serious consequences in real life, simply by the sheer mass of people. As evidence I submit the “Shanxi Earthquake”.

    I can’t imagine this sort of thing even happening in America, and if it did we would chalk it up to “wow what a bunch of morons you can’t predict earthquakes” but since China opened itself up to pagers and mobile phones and the internet they have had hundreds of incidents like this.

    For example all of the shit that went down in Xinjiang last year started with an internet rumor about fictional people being fictionally raped at a real factory, and real people died as a result of the rumor.

    So it’s not like what happens on the Chinese internet doesn’t have real-life consequences for large numbers of people, and I can understand the urge to crack down on people causing chaos this way.

    Which leaves me to wonder why this doesn’t happen more in the USA. Are we just more cynical? What is it that makes shit like a rumor about SARS in bananas (hint plants cant catch sars) spread on mobile phones cause total collapse of the Chinese banana market? Aside from the usual Fengwai (they stupid, etc) responses, I really wonder why this stuff happens in China and so few other places.

    Anyway, Google’s problems are way bigger than censorship, and I’m curious why they aren’t talking more publicly about them.

    • yournametoby, by most accounts I’m familiar with, the government doesn’t have direct administrative control of web portals (though I’m sure they could if they wanted), but instead rely on the web portals (and all website operators) to actively self-censor themselves. Rebecca MacKinnon did some experiments awhile ago evidencing different censorship policies between different Chinese internet service providers.

    • Terry

      Just a not so quick note on why folks in China may not be as cynical as those elsewhere about what they read on the internet that is a comment on the traditional power of the written word in Chinese culture.

      As the written language has for centuries been a truly difficult task to master until the promise of universal education and the simplification of Chinese characters in the 20th century, the written language was long the province of the elite of society and by extension the govt. I must have read some scholarly paper on this once upon a time, but I do believe that the written word holds a sense of almost mystical power in China as a result (to wit, the use of written charms in traditional folk medicine, big character posters in protest etc. ). Written criticism/opposition has long been treated as more potent than verbal criticism as have written proclamations.

      In another sense, the Chinese written language has a lot of “wiggle room” inherent in it due to multiple meanings and a built vagueness to allow for face to be saved and to avoid being pinned down in black and white (ask any legal translator about this one!!). Mao launched the whole Cultural Revolution with a criticism of a traditional play/drama about imperial times that was deemed to be obliquely critical of his role in the CCP!!

      I really feel that this is why “propaganda” “education” and “censorship” is viewed a critical priority for the CCP in maintaining its power. To use the power of the written word to educate folks into a pretty much Confucian “right” way of perception of interpretation and to prevent alternative “wrong” ways from entering into their consciousness.

      The written word still has a lot more credibility/credulity in the Chinese diaspora than it does elsewhere.

  2. Great Post. Nails It.

  3. Darth Farts

    “For those of you who are cheering Google on for uncensoring their search results for the Chinese masses, you’re idiots. Google has done nothing of the sort.”

    No, you’re an idiot. And, while we’re calling each other names, a hack ranter.

    Google absolutely has stopped censoring their search results. The only censorship remaining on is that performed by the Chinese government (as you so generously pointed out). Google’s move to Hong Kong is not aimed at achieving “censorship reform,” but to end the company’s complicity in censorship.

    In fact, website de-listing (what Google did before) was the most evil type of censorship because Chinese users were rarely aware of what their search results were missing. Now, those Chinese who use Google will be confident in their ability to see uncensored search results: they get the whole picture. They do not get this assurance if they use Baidu. This would not be the case if Google continued to operate in the 大陆. So, A6 is just simply not true.

    Presumably, seeing the whole picture appeals to many Chinese users, and could possibly encourage some type of shift away from Baidu (though obviously no one knows whether that will happen). And/or, more likely, the average Chinese user will become more aware of the full extent of CCP’s online censorship.

    • Death Farts,

      I can see how my statement is prone to misinterpretation. My point is that the shutting down of has not resulted in uncensored results for mainland Chinese internet users. Google’s own post declares their belief that this will result in more information being available to Chinese internet users. We’re not seeing that because sensitive searches on are tripping the GFW’s filters, thus it is even questionable if the mainland Chinese user will see even uncensored search results and images on

      Yes, I have no doubt Google is ending its complicity in censorship, as I already explicitly acknowledged in my post. My point is that it’s also saying it’s doing all of this FOR the Chinese people when I simply don’t see how the Chinese people are benefiting at all and are, instead, losing.

      I disagree with your third paragraph. Please review what I said about’s existence had the beneficial byproduct of allowing (and etc.) remain accessible on the mainland where mainland Chinese netizens could see the same results they’re supposed to see on now (except they can’t, because China preemptively set the GFW to block sensitive searches entirely in anticipation of Google’s move — please see James Fallows’ post as linked above — meaning mainland users may not even see the excerpts and thumbnails we thought they might get so long as isn’t blocked).

      Your last paragraph was also explicitly acknowledged in my hack rant of a post. Thank you for your comment but please review the argument.

      • Tom

        As though we expected someone using the undignified screen name of Darth Poop to actually read and understand the blog post before posting a comment …

  4. “I really would, but I’m not convinced that will be the case or is even likely.”

    It isn’t at all likely. Scenario ‘B’ big favourite. Not the worst outcome, though; Chinese netizens will still have access to the same material they did before – it was never going to work out any better than that in the short term.

    Let’s hope after the dust settles and the Chinese government have shaken off their present state of apoplexy that they will quietly ease restrictions on access.

    Hats off to Google for backing up their words with action, and in a way that causes least inconvenience to Chinese users.

    • pug_ster

      I think it is scenario A. Many Chinese netizens are frustrated they can’t use Google at first. But like Twitter, facebook, and youtube, I’m sure that there are many google product copycats are out there eventually will take google’s share. It will go away in time.

  5. JuZZi

    It’s hard for me to believe that multinational companies like Google would do anything for just “Freedom of Speech.” I bet a groups of strategists, PR-managers and accountans have carefully calculated the possible outcomes of this debacle: plusses and minuses and the advertising value of this operation for the Western markets. That is how far we have gone from the hippy dream of WWW. 没办法

    • JuZZi

      Just a quick update. My friend in PRC is not able to access any google websites atm.

      • Teacher in C

        I’m in PRC, and I wasn’t for a brief time at around 8:45 either. None of the googles worked. Now, no matter whether I type .com or .cn, I get redirected to the hong kong site. Sensitive search results are not able to be viewed as separate web pages.

        Oddly enough, .ca lets me get to the Canadian version, but I can’t even search for “cat” or “shoes”.

        This is fun. I just tried .de and it loads and lets me search for “cat”, “shoes” and even something sensitive, although I can’t view any actual webpages on the latter.

        Back to .ca again, “cat” is now ok, as is “shoes”. Something sensitive is not.

        Wheeeee! I could do this all night! Should I try Puss in Boots next? Was that officially the world’s worst joke?

  6. I’m going to post a bigger reply. But all I need to say is… you are right about everything. And that makes me very sad.

  7. Sam

    Scenario 4: government slaps a hefty daily penalty on on each day it’s redirected, citing it breaks the regulation.

  8. just a side point: i dont think you’re going to win any friends or help your argument by calling people idiots.

    • jesse, I know, but it’s something of a litmus test. People will either bore down into why I used such a strong word or they’ll just hate me. And this isn’t the first time a strong word is used to make a point. Either way, I accept my responsibility.

      P.S. – Love your hair, dude. Very Sideshow Bob.

  9. xian

    I don’t get it.. how is Google planning to make more money from these moves?

  10. required

    You idiot!
    Can you read Chinese? Please follow Ai Weiwei @aiww on Twitter.

  11. Zuo Ai

    Kai, google, in my opinion, is taking a step in the right direction. They are doing something. Mebbe they are just standing in front of a line of tanks, trying to talk the driver into turning around and going home. The question I think you are not giving due credence to, is what if google didn’t do this? You say google was once in a position to “lift up an edge furtively”, but were they really? Anyone can be equally as pessimistic about their (google’s) chances of doing that (edge lifting or the effects of edge lifting) as you seem to be of the effect their withdrawal will have on censorship.

    Wouldn’t you rather (supposedly) futilely stand in front of that tank, than move out of its way and hope to throw stones at it later? And then only if an opportunity presents itself. I know I’m being a bit dramatic with the example here, that’s just how I roll.

    • Zuo Ai,

      To me, whether or not Google is taking a step in the “right” direction needs to include “for whom” or “according to whom”. As you already know, I’m really looking at this from the perspective of the Chinese netizens. I can totally see how this is the “right” direction for other players, but I’m not here to argue their side.

      I don’t quite agree with your Tankman imagery, because while Google will and has lost something in its confrontation with China, it isn’t really risking its life. I think that’s overplaying the symbolism, and somewhat disrespectful to the original Tankman.

      I’m thinking Chai Ling, but that might be too disrespectful to Google. I still admire Google too much to call it that!

      What if Google didn’t do this? You tell me what you think is likely. I’m clearly of the opinion that there is a trend towards liberalization, albeit too slow and fraught with setbacks for many of China’s critics, and I believe it’s better for not just the Chinese netizens but also Google to be in the system patiently shaping it rather than throwing down in a fight it’s going to lose and be kicked out of.

      Was Google in a position to life up an edge furtively? Yes, I do think so. I don’t think uncensoring Tankman is the only way to subtly fight the ongoing censorship war in China. Little things like not being Baidu and accepting money to censor/manipulate corporate or provincial wrongdoing help. When the Sanlu milk scandal broke last year, netizens pointed to Google as being more reliable and honest than Baidu. That’s a win. Can Google do that anymore if it gets itself completely blocked out of China?

      Sure, anyone can be as pessimistic about the possible good Google can do remaining in China as I am pessimistic of the good it can do not being in China. I just reserve the right to judge their pessimism as persuasive or not. We all will. It isn’t a matter of whether or not someone CAN be pessimistic, it’s a matter of how many people will agree with that pessimism.

      I understand the dramatic example you’re giving. Just don’t think it is appropriate. We all admire the martyr imagery, but we both know there is smart martyrdom and then there is senseless martyrdom. Most importantly, Google isn’t a martyr here. Is it?

      Again, insofar Google is couching their actions on what’s good for the Chinese netizen, let’s not be afraid to evaluate what good the Chinese netizen has gotten from all this.

      • required

        Pan, How old were you when the Tankman was alive?
        Please read this: @












      • Zuo Ai

        I honestly believe the Chinese netizen will benefit from this in the long(er) term. I think google’s exit inexorably shifting attention on the issue of censorship is for the best (for everyone but the CCP). Censorship is something that, in my opinion, can’t stand on its own merits. So, the more the CCP has to justify it, the worse its going to end up looking. Even to Chinese netizens (cause they are the ones behind the wall). Perhaps this move even encourages the more widespread use of vpn’s and proxy’s in the short term.

        Google’s whole “Do no Evil” bit may seem trite and disingenuous to many, but it is the right call for Chinese netizens and google IMO. After all, it is the Chinese netizens who suffer the most from Google’s self-censorship, who else would they be doing this for? I get it, the Chinese netizen was supposedly benefiting from’s presence in that they had the .com option on the table (sort of). However, that’s like saying the right thing to do during the cultural revolution was (falsely) criticize and label others so you could keep your own skin, cause everybody else was doing it.

        I get when you say it won’t help Chinese netizens, I just think you’re wrong. Google is serving the Chinese netizens and people in doing the right thing, by setting an example. This is part of that “trend toward liberalization” you talked about, only its focused on what should be expected of the CCP. Although many netizens are cynical about it and see no way around the censorship issue, I think they have more power to voice their opinions. However, they have been by and large falling in line out of the sheer magnitude of the beast that it censorship in China, sort of like the political mass campaigns I alluded to with the cultural revolution example.

        Also, google stands to lose out on the fabled “China Market” in many ways. Although the CCP was doing everything in its power to limit google’s market share before, this of course adversely effects google’s bottom line. So, yeah, there is tinge of martyrdom there. Also, you found my use of the Tankman reference “somewhat disrespectful to the original”? I thought it was a bit dramatic, but how is mentioning him as a personification of “Do No Evil” disrespectful?

        I think if Chinese netizen’s are more or less in agreement with your perspective on the issue, then indoctrination by the CCP is going far better than I previously thought.

        • Zuo Ai,

          I’m not as optimistic about substantial or significant increases in the use of proxies and VPNs as a result of this move. The only reason proxies and VPNs aren’t themselves blocked is because the Chinese government treats them as desirable holes to relieve pressure amongst a very small minority. Even if a substantial population of Chinese netizens develop the aptitude to begin using proxies and VPNs, it’s a flick of a switch to shut them down. I think there is ample historical precedent to suggest that more people will simply turn inward instead of figuring out how to hop the wall. The domestic internet ecosystem is large and dynamic enough.

          When it comes to censorship reform, there’s no real import to looking at how “worse” the CCP looks. It’s really how the CCP looks to the Chinese, the only people who really have any position to demand the CCP to reform anything. Remember, the CCP must appear to serve their interests more than not if it wishes to retain legitimacy and power. I’m just not sure this issue, as it has played out, is strong enough to mobilize the Chinese people to demand change. Do you think it is?

          After all, it is the Chinese netizens who suffer the most from Google’s self-censorship, who else would they be doing this for? I get it, the Chinese netizen was supposedly benefiting from’s presence in that they had the .com option on the table (sort of). However, that’s like saying the right thing to do during the cultural revolution was (falsely) criticize and label others so you could keep your own skin, cause everybody else was doing it.

          No, that’s not like it at all. Chinese netizens were benefiting from’s presence in a number of ways. It was an alternative to Baidu (see above) and its mere existence allowed .com to remain accessible. Now that there is no .cn, there’s a high risk of .com and etc. being categorically blocked as well. This is nothing like your Cultural Revolution analogy. Losing these, I don’t see what Chinese netizens have gained instead.

          Google is serving the Chinese netizens and people in doing the right thing, by setting an example.

          I understand this argument, this “standing up for a principle” argument. I understand the ideal. I just don’t see much, if any, pragmatic benefits for the Chinese netizens, especially when other companies and countries are still engaged in China. Should we be damning Nixon? In the big picture, many Chinese are still going to regard Google’s professed “this is for a principle” explanation with suspicion, which blunts the impressive idealism. There are going to be (already are) a lot of Chinese people who see Google abandoning them when they would be far more impressed if Google remained working with them.

          While some people saw Google working for the government, others saw Google struggling to do what it could for the people bound by something Google couldn’t change, providing choice, providing alternatives, providing valuable pragmatic services. People appreciated Google for that and, I argue, more people appreciated Google for that than people appreciating Google exiting China.

          Also, google stands to lose out on the fabled “China Market” in many ways. Although the CCP was doing everything in its power to limit google’s market share before, this of course adversely effects google’s bottom line. So, yeah, there is tinge of martyrdom there.

          Martyrdom to who? To itself? Do you think Chinese netizens are going to think Google is a martyr because it gave up its own market share? That’s not going to evoke much sympathy.

          Also, you found my use of the Tankman reference “somewhat disrespectful to the original”? I thought it was a bit dramatic, but how is mentioning him as a personification of “Do No Evil” disrespectful?

          Because Google is not the Tankman. If the tank squashes the Tankman, he’s gone. If the CCP blocks Google, Google continues existing outside of China. Yes, Google loses something but hardly its life or existence. The Tankman was a Chinese man facing the Chinese government with everything on the line. Google is a foreign company facing the Chinese government with only Chinese market share on the line. The Tankman was saying “you’re supposed to be on my side, not against me.” Google has no position to dictate to the Chinese government.

          I think if Chinese netizen’s are more or less in agreement with your perspective on the issue, then indoctrination by the CCP is going far better than I previously thought.

          Now that’s just a low blow. I thought we were having a respectful discussion, one that was going to include sincere attempts to explain and argue our sides without including “your thinking is the product of brainwashing and indoctrination”. I’m disappointed.

          • “I’m not as optimistic about substantial or significant increases in the use of proxies and VPNs as a result of this move. The only reason proxies and VPNs aren’t themselves blocked is because the Chinese government treats them as desirable holes to relieve pressure amongst a very small minority. Even if a substantial population of Chinese netizens develop the aptitude to begin using proxies and VPNs, it’s a flick of a switch to shut them down. ”

            Wait a minute. Just about every foreign company in China uses a VPN. Sure, China can hunt down the gateways of the (so called) public VPNs. But many smaller companies (and possibly some larger ones) use VPNs which use the same gateways. I believe shutting down VPNs – except the very obvious “personal private VPN” – would have a huge negative impact from the business community. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

          • Jesse,

            No, you’re not wrong. And the Chinese government doesn’t want to do that. The Chinese government isn’t out to control everything because it knows doing so is actually counterproductive to maintaining control. They’re fine with letting those who need to hop the wall hop the wall. The very sophistication of the Chinese government’s censorship policy is in this dynamic: discouraging the mainstream from accessing information it finds objectionable to control the mainstream narrative while allowing those who are curious enough to satisfy their curiosity instead of letting them boil and possibly cause more problems. Check out Rebecca MacKinnon’s research on this stuff.

          • Zuo Ai

            I didn’t mean that last bit as I realize it must have sounded. I’m still trying to find the words to what I was actually trying to say. My apologies

    • BTW, by “The Tank Man”, do you mean the man who stood in front of the tank, or… do you mean the other hero… the one who drove the tank, decided he didn’t want to crush another man? I heard the driver was executed. But that adds too much complication to this simple imagery.

      What did the Tank Man accomplish? He became a martyr to … what? Democracy? The students were protesting access to jobs in the Government. The people who joined the students (initially against the wishes of the student leaders) were protesting inflation and corruption. This was before the students decided that they should follow that Culture Revolution protest model a little more closely, and hence needed to strive for revolution. What does this tell us about Google. Nothing. Because reality is far more complicated than that damn image of Tank Man!

      Lets use the analogy anyway. Is Google being Tank Man? Uh… no. If we wanted to use this analogy, Google is being Fang Lizhi. Google is getting praise as a human rights activist, and getting material benefit from that righteous status…in America. Meanwhile, Chinese society moves on.

      • required

        Moves on to what? Fascist state?

        What do you know about Cultural Revolution? The Red Guards are used by Mao as his tool for his political purpose. Students on Tiananmen Square are doing what they thought right for them.

        Have you ever lived in China before Nixon went there?

        • Fascist state? No. But society moved on and changed. And in many ways, tried to bury the memory of 6/4. Not for the people who were there of course. My peers, friends, and coworkers… managers of 外资企业 … came of age during this time. But the protest did not have a lasting impact on China. That’s what I mean by “moves on…”

          What is the relationship between GCR and 6/4? Look at it. What model of protest did the students have to base their methods? They went for extremism (near the end anyway). And there were students coming in from all over claiming to be the true vanguards of the revolution. There were fights between student groups about this.

          This is my theory BTW. I base it on the many conversations with witnesses. Conversations I had in China in 1991, 1995, and since 2003.

          BTW, the Red Guards thought they were doing what was right for the country too. And the students in the square originally marched because they wanted better jobs, not because they wanted what was best for the country (although they probably thought that if they got better government jobs, it would be better for the country)

          • required

            Who wanted better jobs? Where did you learned all your facts? They wanted reforms not just benefit your 外资企业 with only economic side of things. They did have their hopes in Hu and Zhao at the time to have political reform goes along with the economic ones. But their hopes were dashed when the Army crashed the site. If you were there, you’ll not believe the job things as you are told. 20 some years passed, China is still in a sorry state of one party dictatorship with added corrupted ruling class. People in China still worship your foreigners and you can make your money of it. I’m a Chinese living in the US and no one give me a damn and I’m earning a living same as everyone here. Only when you have to struggle in China as a normal Chinese person, China will start to have some hope.

          • Zuo Ai

            GCR would have gone nowhere were it not for approval from the state. 6/4 might not have kept going or been as fervent had their not been mixed messages from the CCP at that time either. So, I see some of the similarities you are voicing here.

            However, I was alluding to the Tank man imagery as a dramatic way of saying; “This guy did the right thing, it took balls, it was good for the people of China”. I then likened google to doing something similar. I understand if you believe the Tank man (or Tank men if you will) accomplished nothing, but I disagree. Especially if you look at things in the long term, I think the tank man is a potent symbol in the Chinese struggle for human rights. Any time anyone invokes 6/4, whether it be a govt. official urging caution in dealing with protests, or a blogger calling for open history, the tank man’s influence is tangible.

            btw, this;

            “BTW, the Red Guards thought they were doing what was right for the country too. And the students in the square originally marched because they wanted better jobs, not because they wanted what was best for the country”

            is wrong in many ways. How do you know the original intentions of the student protesters?

        • King Tubby

          Fascist state. Imprecise terminology. While Mussolinis Italy and contemporary China share a common element, corporatism (get that dictionary out), to characterise China today as fascist or even national socialist (Nazi as has also been done) is a BIG reach, and one which would not be attemped by a year 10 history student.

          • required

            How about just National Communist state. There is no parallel of current state of China in history anywhere.

  12. required

    Here is a example of twit by @aiww:


    • required

      Please translate this:

      今天,世界上最大的敏感词公司敏感词撤出了敏感词。 这是敏感词的一天,是敏感词的敏感词,我作为一个敏感词的敏感词,为敏感词感到敏感词。我无法敏感词,今后的敏感词会变得如何敏感词。但就如敏感词所说,敏感词是有其敏感词敏感词的,它终究会因其敏感词的敏感词而敏感词。

      • I’ll try to translate.

        Today, in the world the biggest sensitive company sensitive word took away a sensitive word [?] because sensitive words feel sensitive words [? … I guess I’m not good at translating]. I will become a sensitive word of a sensitive word, so that a sensitive word becomes a sensitive word. I have no ability to sensitive word. Tomorrow’s sensitive work will become any sensitive word, but just how a sensitive word says, sensitive word there are…

        oy. Sorry. I can’t translate this. Too many sensitive words.

        • required

          Thanks for trying, Jesse. The original Chinese is kind of exaggeration. But for lots Chinese living on Chinese online world, they have to do this kind things to get around censorship, which is often done by the employees hired by Baidu, Sina and the like.

        • required

          Sorry I have to add one more quote at

          评论共10384条 显示91条

          My translation:
          State News Office talks about google quit China: Pissed by Google’s unreasonable accusation

          Total Comments 10,384
          Comments (can be) Displayed 91

          My comments:
          网易( really went all out to block the comments, 91/10384

        • Terry

          ha ha ha…. you made my day Jesse.. thank you

  13. required

    An example of twit by @aiww:


  14. required

    Kai, Don’t know if you can understand this:


    • required, thanks for sharing but please try to avoid flooding the comments with cut and paste.

      • required

        I don’t know what’s your background. What makes you think that Chinese Government will improve itself. The is not the issue here. The contract between goolge and baidu, sina, or are so obvious that do you think google will act as a running dog for Chinese Communist Party. The self-censorship is the key here.

        • I’m going to ask you again to please not flood the comments with cut and paste. It would be better for you to post links to what you want to share and ideally explain why you think they are important for others to read.

          I’ve explained why is an issue here. You don’t have to agree. Self-censorship may be the key for you, but what I’m tackling here are the ramifications for the Chinese internet user. Again, you don’t have to agree with my opinion, but please do not flood the comments.

          • required

            I posted the link along with the quotes just as you did in your article. What do you think the internet users in China will do? Just like you, they can also jump the GFW with vpn, freegate etc. I don’t think you can survive without that youself. How come chinese people have to suffer. Close and eventually blocks all google services, Chinese government will make more Chinese people Fan Qiang and that cannot be your own privilege any more. (assuming you are in China)

            To quote another site (I don’t know how to post image here). I dare if you understand this:


          • required,

            Yes, I made one post with many links and all my own commentary. You made six separate comments that are all cut and paste with no real commentary on your part.

            What do I think the internet users in China will do? I know there are 384 million of them and the vast majority of them do not know nor are able to hop the GFW with VPNs and proxies. Those who do are a very small minority. I actually survive just fine without a VPN. The only reason I have one is because it was given to me for free.

            I didn’t say Chinese people HAVE to suffer. I said Chinese people, from my evaluation of the situation, have lost a lot as a result of this Google fiasco.

            My privilege? Why are you trying to make me look like I want to keep my ability to bypass the GFW to myself?

            Assuming I’m in China? Have you read my profile here on china/divide yet?

            Finally, why are you “daring” me to understand anything?

  15. required

    please read this: (if you can)

    很多用户担心Google退出中国后,很多服务将无法使用。实际上,Google是2006年正式进入中国的,在2006年之前,中国网民在大多数情况下都能正常使用Google的服务。 是当时中国网民使用得最多的搜索引擎之一。


    也就是说,Google退出中国,对用户带来较大影响的只是Google中国本地化团队推出的像谷歌音乐这样的服务。其它的,比如Gmail、 Reader完全不受影响,因为这些服务本身并不是中国团队推出的,服务器也不在中国。搜索可以使用,甚至可以使用和,不管是“哪个国家”的Google,都能完美地搜索各种语言,这其中当然包括中文。

    • Not an exact translation.

      “Many people fear that as Google leaves China, many services will not be able to be used. In fact, Google entered China officially in 2006; before that, Chinese netziens in most situations were able to use Googel service. at the time was one of the search engines [搜索引擎 sou1suo3yin3qing2 … wow! new vocab] which Chinese netziens used the most.”

      [next paragraph about Google coming to China, adding music…which BTW I have never used…adding Chinese language search engine. Most importantly, have, Chinese users did not have to worry that using’s engine key words would cause network reset (I think means block)]

      “Just to say, Google leaving China, to the users, as the Chinese local Google team pointed out it will affect music and that type of service. Other stuff, for instance Gmail, reader, will not have an affect. This is becuase these services are essentially not China team provided. Server is not in China. Search can still use Google .com. and etc. Does not matter which countries google; all can search in different languages including Chinese”.

      All true btw. Except, now that Google has pissed off the government, it seems that Reader is not functioning properly. its outside of GFW

  16. required

    Just tell me what do you think what 张发财 did. You are just like the lady appeared at the meeting of Ai Weiwei and Jack Dorsey in NYC. You make money as a foreigner in China with corporation with corrupted Chinese Communist officials. And think Chinese people are living in a good country.

    BTW, do you Twitter? Facebook? Youtube?

    • YO required

      在大庆,我们访问过不少有名的英雄人物,也访问过许多在平凡的岗位上忠心耿耿的“无名英雄”。从他们身上,我们发现,大庆人不论做什么工作,心里都深深地铭刻着两个大字:“革命”。 -铁人王进喜

      will translate this for yall tomorrow, am googled out!

      in the mean time this “requires” “translation”

      need sleep,

      keep it real
      keep it 50c

      • required

        Are you 五毛?



        • lxjx

          Please don’t call others wumao. what wumao, I like 三毛!

          Please don’t spam the comment area with other people’s twits. Say something with your own words.

        • required,


          • required


        • Tai Pan is not supporting America or China on this matter. He is anti-hypocrisy and pro-Chinese people. You see in the Western media they are all praising Google, without any understanding. And what did Google do? The left China, in an insulting way, and thereby limiting the exposure of Chinese people to other channels of information. Righteousness in appearance, but not in result.

          There is no need to insult each other though. Both Tai Pan and yourself want the same thing for Chinese people.

          • Who is this Tai Pan fellow? He sounds awesome. Must be handsome too.

          • Terry

            “Who is this Tai Pan fellow? He sounds awesome. Must be handsome too.”

            Methinks he once had an office on the top 2 floors of Connaught Center/Jardine House/Man Fat Lo (building of 10,000 assholes as HK Taxi drivers so love to point out) or was he a figure of JC’s imagination? ..

            hmm. wonder what would show up if I googled that!!

            Wiki is so tame with no mention of assholes!!

      • YO!,


        been a long day? dui bu dui?

        “In Daqing, we visited many famous hero figures, but we also visited many “unknown heroes” who are loyal and devoted to achieving extraordinary success at an ordinary post. From them, we found that, whatever is being done with Daqing people, my heart is deeply engraved with two Chinese characters: the “revolution.”


        I need a few more “requirements”

        say ”你号“ to the astrophysicist

        tell him Carl Sagan, says hello!


        ball is in your court bitch!

        keep it real,
        keep it 50c!

  17. hm

    ergggg… comments totally gone off track???

    My two cents is that a business will do what is in their interests. I don’t believe Google’s got any moral intentions and even if they do, they knew everything was going to get blown out of proportion by human rights activists who don’t have a real clue about China and her history, but would rather follow what they see and hear on their biased media. It somehow still benefits Google in the end as a business move.

    Sorry, but the world’s just not that simple and clean.

    • required

      Yes, as if the media in China (or of those non human rights activists) are unbiased. Who has real clue about China and Chinese history? Not CCP and current Chinese Government. You have to be able to read their propaganda to understand how distorted history and reality is China is to make judgement about the whole thing about google vs China. The original post is lacking this kind background to really grasp the China situation. The expats in China in a privileged bunch that really don’t care about the fate of China.

      • lolz

        Oh please, the non-expats who don’t even live in China care about the fate of China? Are you saying that the anti-China activists who are saying “f-China” on just about every Chinese related post, or people like you who advocate the collapse of the Chinese economy through international embargo, that you people care about the average Chinese? That’s the biggest piece of bullshit I have ever heard.

        You remind me of one of the student leaders of TAM 柴玲. Chai Ling was quoted by American journalist Philip Cunningham saying “The students kept asking, ‘What should we do next? What can we accomplish?’ I feel so sad, because how can I tell them that what we are actually hoping for is bloodshed, for the moment when the government has no choice but to brazenly butcher us. Only when the Square is awash with blood will the people of China open their eyes. Only then will they really be united.”

        “Human rights” activists such as yourself want China to fail because that is the only way to get the Chinese people riled up enough to demand change. However, what you discount is the fact that when China fails it the people who will suffer won’t be the elite government party officials or the expats who have already sent their money overseas, but the average workers. What you really want is that the average Chinese workers suffer so much that they revolt.

        • required

          Wow, lolz, you really a model Party Member. Hope you get paid by TG. OK, the people will not fall after drinking baby formular, getting shots in Shanxi, lying under 豆腐渣 schools after earthquake.

          Who wants to embargo China anyway? The States? It’s the joke. The companies who made tons of money of the poor workers in China? Or the people started this blog who made money in this process?

          All they feared that if google’s out, they’ll lose their last sanctuary and they have to rely on baidu, sina, and others trash inside China.

          • lolz

            Oh how cute, did I struck a nerve by comparing you to 柴玲? She is your hero isn’t she? You do think like her at least. Do you know that Chai Ling is still suing the journalist who dared to publish what she said in order to censor the poor guy? Isn’t it ironic that she became famous because of her advocacy for freedom of speech, only that when the table is turned she is against freedom of speech?

            And what’s up with your hatred of expats who want to make money in China? They have done a lot more to help the locals than you have. How many jobs have you given to people in China? How many mouth have you helped to fed outside of your family? Let me guess, you are just jealous that they have done something positive for China, while you can only imagine how great you are by posting your silly and tiresome ramblings on a blog which you clearly disrespect. Why bother? If you don’t like people making blogs to make money then why even post? Don’t you know that they will be getting more ad money from your participation?

      • hm

        Even if supposedly, their history is highly distorted, history is distorted everywhere.

        Besides, what do you think is distorted about what Chinese learn about their history? The West focuses too much on Tiananmen protests without really understanding what the students/ protesters really wanted. In reality, its time to move on from that and that’s what the Chinese have done.

        This whole Google vs. China thing is not that important because like I’ve said, I feel its more of a business interest. Plus, there are other things China needs to worry about than this censorship BS. It doesn’t embody whatever you are saying China’s situation is.

        The Chinese citizens are willing to give up their rights for peace/safety. They may not like it but they understand it is necessary. Ahhh… reminds me of the Leviathan.

        • required

          If you are thinking that Chinese people are living in peace/safety right now, I don’t have to argue with you that much. I don’t think American people suffered too much under Bush(by Chinese standard anyway), they eventually got Obama.

          As for google’s decision about getting out of China, it is a business decision, I agree. But that’s what they learned by actually get into China. While the acts of hacking into gmail accounts are common place, the targeted hacking into accounts of certain political sensitive figures is not a simple act of money seeking hacking. Linking this and the government censorship without clear rules, no reasonable business person in this business would want to stay there.

          Peace. Even 刘晓波 thinks he has no enemy while been put in jail for 11 years for just saying something.

  18. ben

    I’m just wondering what if peopel like “required” take over PRC?

  19. @ZuoAi

    “is wrong in many ways. How do you know the original intentions of the student protesters?”

    I went to Beida in 92. I interviewed people before that, including Fang Lizhi (I thought he was a pretentious asshole BTW, but what did I know…I was 21 years old). I used (as a language translation exercise) big-character posters that were going up in Beida in 89. Several other foreigners who interviewed students in 89 had said that at the beginning, the students had decided to not let “workers” march with them, and that was because their goal was about changing the way promotion / entry into the party worked. Later, the goals of the students changed at least twice before 6/4.


    Yes they wanted reform. No…they NEVER wanted democracy. Only at the end of the movement were some students calling for a change to One-Party-State. I gained this knowledge based on my interviews with people in Beijing in 1992 (3 years after 6/4) and with interviews over time with other people.


    Another thing… is Tank Man a symbol for Chinese people? Or is it a symbol which the west has adopted, on behalf of Chinese people? I do not know. I do not know what Chinese people think about Tank Man. But I do know that Chinese generally don’t think much about him. Even the 6/4 generation… who are now the business leaders of China… don’t think about Tank Man. They have their own symbols and their own meaning from 6/4. So I would say…in China … this symbol, in the long run, means nothing.

    BUT, lets hypothesize that the tanks did not role in on 6/4. Lets hypothesize that the government made a few small reforms, and the student leaders declared a victory instead of letting things go out of control. Everyone goes home. And they remember that they got the government to listen. To budge. Potentially, the leaders of the movement would have still been arrested. On the other hand, if they had walked away with something, it would have set a precedent. Something real was achieved.

    Today China is different from 1989. People protest all the time and get results. Sometimes they get results anyway. But they protest to achieve a result. They protest in a way which they think they will get a result. Chinese people usually don’t protest in order to create a PR win, or create a symbol.

    • required

      Jesse, I think the difference between you and me are indicate of something. I was a graduate student at Beida in the 80s. And came to US after 6/4. Although I go back to China about every two years, I don’t think I can survive there. Actually it’s not the economic condition, it’s the other thing. (Most of my classmates stayed in China made more money there and have more expensive house/apartment than me).

      One of the other things is the freedom of press. It’s what the CCP most afraid of. And it’s what the debate of google’s fate lies. You said that “People protest all the time and get results.” and can you gave me some examples?

      BTW, Fang Lizhi was my teacher when I was in Keda as an undergrad. I have my full respect for him and that’s another difference between us, I guess

      • Hi,

        1. I’m sorry I insulted your teacher, Fang Lizhi. My impressions as a 21 year old kid, when he was essentially on a speaking tour in USA, are probably not accurate.

        2. I feel that everyone of my classmates are richer than me too. Don’t think about that…it will drive you crazy.

        • required

          Just hope this site is not inside Mainland China. Another quote, really sorry:







        • required

          I’d rather live poor in the USA than live rich in PRC.

          • Terry

            Funny, and here I have truly been thinking that I would rather live poor in the PRC than rich in the effectively Socialist Republic of USA with it overwhelming suffocating blanket of rules and regulations and political correctness. Yes I am a poor laowai in his 50’s here in the PRC, but at least I am not facing the prospect of the US Govt. confiscating everything I own to fund ObamaCare, Social Insecurity, and other well meaning but essentially fallacious and non-viable programs of its ilk.

            Sorry Kai for going off subject here… I thought your post was most accurate and well put. Here’s to hoping for Scenario A.

            signing off and getting back to work here to be a little less poor in the good ole PR of C. ;)

    • Zuo Ai


      Do yo think “tank man” has anything to do with how the CCP deals with protests today? That’s what I mean by an influence, a direct one.

      Also, I realize many Chinese do not know about tank man, but whenever I talk to a Chinese about 89, that’s the first thing I show. Sure you could be like “that’s just for your western self-gratification/ liberal ass.” But, that was a Chinese man, during a domestic protest in the capital city (many others as well). That doesn’t happen too often, and its quite plausible that the CCP knows the consequences of dealing with a situation like that in a similar manner, and will try to avoid it at a high cost.

      6/4 was nothing like the protests which occur daily in the countryside and few people know/give a shit about. But sure, if this and that happened, then things might be this and that way. Either way, looking back, who would you have rather been during the cultural revolution, the one who stood up and said “I don’t are what u label me, this shit is wrong”, or the one who got up right after him and said “he’s a counterrevolutionary”. Which one of those is going to make people think about how fucked up the system itself is?

      • “Do yo think “tank man” has anything to do with how the CCP deals with protests today?” No. Well…yes… he makes the CCP more paranoid about controlling media and preventing mass protests. But Deng Yujiao is a much more powerful symbol today. The case got known on the internet. Baidu could remove Deng Yujiao from search results. Google showed the result, but would not link through. A core symbol which meant something clear to Chinese people, not just “liberal asses”.

        The CCP will try to avoid a situation like Tank Man again by keeping the economy growing and dealing with “stability” problems as they come up. And that is why they think they need to control the media. IF there is a mass-protest in Beijing again, the government absolutely WILL send in the Tanks if they cannot find another option. That will not change; bottom line is that the Party survives.

        “who would you have rather been during the cultural revolution, the one who stood up and said “I don’t are what u label me, this shit is wrong”,”

        Personally (and I’m not proud to admit this), I would rather be the guy who goes on to live another day so that I can take care of my two little children. If it got to that point, I would try to run away. During the GCR, everyone went crazy. Standing up got you tortured and killed. Period. If I wanted to be the hero during that time, I would have figured out a way to kill…Uncle. That would have been the only way. People would not listen to me about how the system is. Just as… I can shout here all I want about this topic… but its the media outlets which are shaping people’s opinion. I’m Jewish BTW. If I stood up in Nazi Germany, would it have changed people’s opinion?

        To use this analogy… Google is standing up…in the United States. Not in China. They are changing people’ opinion in the United States…not in China. Chinese people already dislike censorship. At the same time, many Chinese people often also think censorship is necessary. But Google’s actions do not materially change that situation.

      • Zuo Ai,

        I think you’re taking the Cultural Revolution imagery too far, as with the Tiananmen imagery. Who here is calling Google a “counterrevolutionary?” Come on, man, you’re making extremists out of people with reasonable concerns. We admire the martyr, but those who aren’t martyrs aren’t necessarily evil people in support of oppression. Standing up may make you a martyr or a hero, but not standing up doesn’t mean you’re against or out to get the person who is.

        • Zuo Ai


          Okay, over the top, fine. But I still don’t think its a fair shake to judge google’s actions solely on what the right now practical benefits are to Chinese netizens. Although you are speaking from that perspective, I still think the effect of a principled stance bears more weight on the balance sheet here. From reading your article, and others you have written on this subject, I think you’re leaning too far to one side, but of course that’s my personal opinion and I respect yours.

          The cultural rev. and tank man examples are dramatic, but I of course don’t mean them to literally apply. Take the GCR for example. The CCP (or rather, Mao) utilizing the “masses” to engage in activities which many educated Chinese thought were ludicrous, all in the name of some greater good for society. Google pulling out cause they refuse to self-censor (as well as put their IP at risk), educated Chinese bringing flowers cause they realize there isn’t much that can be done to help the corp (saying “u effed with the state, zaijian neige”), all so the CCP censors can maintain “social stability”.

          Not trying to say you or anyone else is the person on the other side, those in support of oppression. I was just trying to use a story to ask; which one would you rather be, in hindsight? Not trying to label people counterrevolutionaries, just saying look at the corps. stance as maybe not just benefiting the liberals and westerners’ egos.

          • Zuo Ai,

            On one hand, I’m not sure I’m actually judging Google’s actions as much as I am judging those who may (will, and have) interpret Google’s move the wrong way. On the other, I’m not sure how it is “unfair” to judge Google’s actions by those that are most affected by it.

            Very much appreciate respecting each other’s opinion and emphases. Or at least respecting each other enough to acknowledge what’s important to each other as being understandable if not personally applicable. Good stuff.

            I understand you’re asking me to see Google’s stance as benefiting more than themselves and Western egos, but I’m just not yet convinced of that or the certainty of those possible benefits. This, to me, at best, is a big gamble, a big ploy to catalyze Chinese people’s discontent so they’ll demand change themselves. It’s basically, “sorry, not going to play with you anymore until you convince your parents to let me do this”.

            Scenario A would be the ideal remaining outcome I’d like to see. At least in this scenario, while GFW-filtered, Chinese netizens can still access Google’s algorithms for the vast bulk of their searches. I just think it is highly likely that the government won’t leave it at this and I worry about Scenario B.

  20. Spandolf

    Yesterday at first I thought the government had blocked but later I discovered that it was Google who had blocked it!

    Here in the heart of mainland China I used the services of every day and got the same results as anyone anywhere else in the world.

    Now there is a risk that I will not be able to access anything google!

    Thanks a lot Google corp!

  21. required

    Ha, Terry,

    How ironic I’m living in a socialist country called US of A. Any you choose to live in a communist country where you can get money the most capitalist way.

  22. Inst

    I suspect the Google business doesn’t matter very much to most Chinese users; you have urban educated elites who use Google for its superiority over Baidu, but that’s it. For everyone else, it’s just Baidu, Baidu, Baidu, over and over again. Maybe someone will knock-off Google’s search algorithms in China and make a reliable competitor to Baidu, but that’s not related to the censorship issue.

    If the Chinese government is smart, it’ll use the lightest possible touch in this case, which will be to just delist and block the website. It’s proportional response; if Google refuses to censor its China engine, then the China engine is blocked, and that’s the end of it. Android should still be let loose, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chinese government started making it difficult for Google to conduct business in China.

    The problem with the light touch scenario is that the Chinese government has completely lost control over its Western PR image. If the New York Times published an article accusing HJT and WJB of eating babies and raping schoolchildren, I doubt it would affect much the NYT’s credibility. Okay, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but then the Western media would just spin it as “Google stood up to China, China blinked” and then the problem wouldn’t go away.

    • Inst

      “Somewhere down the line, Chinese netizens — or maybe their children — will start asking why there is no and the story may told.”

      That’s another thing; I think the problem is that if you tell Chinese people they live in an unfree society and should overthrow their government, you may not get the intended response. First, I think James Fallows noted that there is a Cold War atmosphere in China, at least when he left, where the locals decided that the world was out to get them. That’s what happens when you use liberal propaganda against a nationalist opinion base; instead of evaluating your ideas, they decide you’re out to get them and become drastically offended by the inherent condescension of the communication. It’s also a matter of priorities depending on the segment of society; whereas a class of intellectuals may be receptive to liberal values, say, urban and upwardly mobile professionals would just feel insulted when they’re told that their lifestyle of consumerism is invalidated by the fact that they have limited political rights.

      An alternative model, you could just say that unless people are living in resignation, most people seek to do something to better their lives. Replacing or reforming the governmental model, honestly, is not the best way, for most individuals, to use their time to improve their lives in the current Chinese society, when they feel they’re upwarding mobile and can use their efforts to educate their children, get more money, get promoted, start a business, and so on. It’s sort of like the paradox of voting; for individual voters, the act of voting makes no sense, since they are buying one share out of millions in their candidate. As a social movement, sure, it’s rational, but for individual voters there’s no reason to bother; excepting close elections someone else can pick up the vote and save you the line at the polling station. In the same way, actively supporting political reforms puts the individual in the line of so much risk, both in the sense of government retribution and in the sense of individual futility. So, people get on with their lives and choose other ways to better themselves.

      • Fantastic comment, Inst.

        • Inst

          pretty embarrassed because it was pretty incoherent.

          Also, I’m very happy that I called it: it turns out that Google cache, which I had been using to get around GFW and to view old results, has been re-blocked by either the GFW or my ISP.

          • Inst

            not that it ever worked against results that were filter-blocked by GFW, such as bl0gspot or f*l*n g*ng, but I have other proxies for that.

    • required

      Don’t spread FUD like this:
      “If the New York Times published an article accusing HJT and WJB of eating babies and raping schoolchildren, I doubt it would affect much the NYT’s credibility.”
      Just tell me WHY did have to censor the search results of “纳米比亚 胡“?

  23. Nicole Kempt

    Hi Kai – Interesting post! Thought you might get a kick out of this It’s the “Internet Affairs Bureau”‘s directives on press coverage of Google. Pretty ironic given the nature of the event they’re meant to (not) be discussing.

    • Nicole,

      It isn’t ironic at all. It’s totally expected from the Chinese government. Reading that list I just want to stab myself in the eye. Twice.

  24. I agree a probable outcome is they wait for the ICP to expire as you say (this is coming soon) and then the redirect will disappear. Then they will increase the surveillance on the GFW keyword blocks and that is all.

    That would be the most reasonable and probably most beneficial for the CCP and for “harmony”, and after a few months most people here will not even remember the incident.

    But there must be a lot of people inside the party who are very pissed of with this, and it is not sure they have so much self restraint. The strange silence in the Chinese news these days is probably the leaders trying to reach a consensus on the best reaction, and it can well be the calm that precedes the storm.

    In any case, what I have no doubt is that even if the reasonable voices prevail in the party, and even if they let this pass without a scene, they will find other ways to make Google pay for this. I wouldn’t give a cent for any Google investment in the mainland in any field, even unrelated to the internet. Like usual, it is the Chinese people who pay.

Continuing the Discussion