Henry Blodget: Doesn’t Know Crap About The Google China Drama

Henry Blodget

How can someone who has “ran Merrill’s [Merrill Lynch] global Internet research practice and was ranked the No. 1 Internet and eCommerce analyst on Wall Street by Institutional Investor and Greenwich Associates” be so completely ignorant as to be negligent about Google’s situation in China yet be so confidently opinionated?

Boy, Did Google Blow It In China*

Henry Blodget | July 9, 2010, 11:10 AM

This morning came news that China has renewed Google’s license to operate in the country.

That seemed like good news–Google wins the China standoff!–until it was revealed that Google’s China search engine will now effectively be censoring ALL web pages, instead of just the ones that the Chinese government found objectionable.

My initial reaction was something more along the lines of this, a simmering disbelieving outrage. Fortunately, being interrupted by a friend to discuss an upcoming bachelor party in Vegas has taken the edge off so now I’m just indignantly disturbed. How can someone who ostensibly makes their living understanding the tech and internet industry can be so wrong about a major — and well-covered — story? First it was MG Siegler of TechCrunch, and now it’s Henry Blodget of Silicon Alley Insider.

Right, look, I can forgive the people who simply don’t understand how the internet works outright, or the difference between a domain that automatically forwards visitors to another domain and a domain with a single page featuring an image that can be clicked to visit another domain. These people may know other things I don’t, like how to tune a carburetor or do stoichiometry. But there’s little to no excuse for these people to not know exactly what’s going on with the Google China drama. There just isn’t. No. None.

So now that we’ve covered why being wrong would be embarrassing for someone like Mr. Blodget, let’s review how Mr. Blodget is embarrassingly wrong1:

Google’s China search engine will now effectively be censoring ALL web pages, instead of just the ones that the Chinese government found objectionable.

Huh? Google China doesn’t have an internet search engine. It hasn’t had one since Google dismantled it at the end of March and began redirecting all google.cn visitors to google.com.hk so they could use the internet search engine there. The reason Google did this was because it no longer wanted to self-censor their mainland China search engine index and search results. They also did not want to be kicked out of the mainland China market so instead of simply uncensoring their mainland China search engine and continue offering it to mainland Chinese internet users in violation of mainland China laws, they just shut it down.

The clever thing was the redirect. By using an automatic redirect, internet users who typed in google.cn still reached a Google search engine they could use. From a user’s perspective, very little changed especially when Google dressed up google.com.hk to resemble the old google.cn. For the most part, nothing changed on the front-end except for the URL automatically changing from google.cn to google.com.hk.

Google.com.hk redesigned to look like the old google.cn.

Google.com.hk redesigned to look like the old google.cn.

The real change was behind the scenes and it was mostly for Google’s benefit. Users were no longer using the self-censored Google China search engine but were now using the uncensored Google Hong Kong search engine. Both were still functional search engines. The difference for users were that searches for sensitive keywords would now result in a Great Firewall interruption to their internet connection to google.com.hk whereas previously, they would get search results but they would lack all the results the Chinese government deems objectionable. Either way, for them, they had no greater access to internet content the Chinese government doesn’t want them to see. The more important difference was for Google because it was no longer legally obligated to censor the results it offered to mainland Chinese users. Their immediate objective in all of this was not to increase mainland Chinese netizens’ access to censored internet material but to stop being arguably complicit in the very act of censoring the internet search results they returned to anyone who made a query on google.cn.

Google knows that the redirect didn’t really increase the amount of internet content accessible to mainland Chinese internet users, but they were fine with letting many in the media mistakenly and stupidly celebrating that as the major coup of Google’s end-of-March redirect. What was important was for Google to stop feeling guilty about complying with Chinese government mandated censorship. They didn’t want to be part of it and now they weren’t. No one could blame Google for participating in censorship anymore. The fact that certain internet material was still censored for mainland netizens was the Great Firewall’s fault, not Google’s. After all, google.com.hk does offer uncensored results but if the Great Firewall that monitors all internet data transmission going into mainland China sees something the government has blacklisted and steps in to cut the connection between the mainland China internet user and google.com.hk, hey, its not Google’s fault.

Wow, I’ve just re-explained what I and many others have already analyzed and shared 3-4 months ago.

The above is important to understand because only when you understand it will you know how incomprehensibly wrong Mr. Blodget is by remotely suggesting that Google is now “censoring ALL web pages”. Google is not doing anything of the sort. Yes, Google was censoring some search results (not web pages) when it was still operating the Google China search engine that used to be accessible at google.cn. It is no longer because there is no longer a Google China internet search engine. No greater or less censorship was involved at all with yesterday’s news that the Chinese government renewed Google’s ICP license.

Now we need to backtrack a bit to Mr. Blodget’s opening comments:

This morning came news that China has renewed Google’s license to operate in the country.

That seemed like good news–Google wins the China standoff!

No, the ICP license renewal issue was not about whether Google could or could not “operate” in China, it is mostly about whether or not Google can keep and use the google.cn domain name.

The “China standoff” was not about whether Google could operate in China or not. Google was always welcome to operate in China provided it followed China’s laws. The “China standoff” was really only about the internet search engine portion of Google’s business in China. The “standoff” was when Google threatened to stop self-censoring its Google China search engine in violation of China’s censorship laws. The “standoff” was whether or not Google would really do so and challenge the Chinese government to kick it out of China for the violation. The “standoff” was whether or not the Chinese government would buckle to Google’s challenge and international pressure and allow the Google China search engine to operate uncensored in contravention of its own censorship policies.

Well, we know what happened. The Chinese government stood its ground, refusing to budge from its position on censorship and acquiesce to Google and anyone advocating less internet censorship. Google, on the other hand, had painted itself into a corner. It wanted to stay in the mainland Chinese market somehow but it couldn’t just continue censoring the Google China search engine. It had already said it would no longer do so. Going back would be mighty embarrassing. So Google, clever guys that they are, found something of an exit from that corner through the redirect to Google Hong Kong, as we reviewed above. Google was outside of China’s laws now but google.cn was still a mainland China-accessible search engine serving mainland Chinese users. Again, the difference was that the GFW had to do all the censoring and Google itself was off the hook.

Both sides kinda sorta “won” here. Google got what it wanted: to no longer be directly involved in censoring its search results. China didn’t have to compromise on its censorship policies: Google may have openly complained about China’s censorship policies but it didn’t try openly violating them and force the Chinese government to kick it out. Google could still offer a search engine to mainland Chinese internet users. China could still use the Great Firewall to censor anything it doesn’t like coming out of google.com.hk. Both just largely went their separate ways after a three month “standoff”.

The “good news” about Google getting its ICP license renewed is that it gets to keep the google.cn domain name up and running as a point of access for mainland Chinese internet users who aren’t typing in “google.com” or “google.com.hk’.

Let’s move on:

Specifically, Google’s search engine in China will now consist only of product and music searches (and maybe maps, although, according to China expert Bill Bishop, that involves a different license that has yet to be renewed).  The landing page will also include a link to Google’s Hong Kong site, which includes web pages and which, for now at least, China’s government is allowing Chinese citizens to access.

I’m sorry that Mr. Blodget learned something spot on about the Google Maps situation in China from Bill Bishop but utterly failed to learn the actual Google China situation as I’m confident Bill Bishop knows. As such, I’m voluntarily embarrassed that Bill Bishop‘s name is even invoked here2.

Anyway

No, Google’s search engine in China does not now “consist only of product and music searches.” Mr. Blodget clearly does not understand Google’s service offerings in China and much less how they are made available through the google.cn domain name. The ICP license may be tied with the google.cn domain name but the google.cn domain name is not necessarily tied to any “search engine”. Yes, Google once hosted the Google China search engine at google.cn just like Google hosts its Google Hong Kong search engine at google.com.hk. But that was merely a service provided on that domain name. Google also previously provided music search, product search, and a translation tool on google.cn and — more importantly — continues to do so.

Yesterday’s ICP renewal news did not involve any censorship of any search engine Google offers on google.cn. Remember, there isn’t a Google China search engine anymore and there hasn’t been one since the end of March. From March until yesterday and, the search engine provided to visitors of google.cn was actually the search engine at google.com.hk. Users reached the google.com.hk search engine through google.cn. Yesterday’s ICP renewal hasn’t changed that and the search engine accessible at google.cn now is still the uncensored by Great Firewall filtered search engine at google.com.hk.

Mr. Blodget clearly knows how to the use the internet and read those who know their stuff better than him. So how can he have followed this entire Google China drama from last December until now without understanding the very basics of the story?

The big takeaway from the ICP renewal news is the fact that the Chinese government has apparently accepted a big clickable image link that looks just like Google’s normal search bar and takes the visitor to google.com.hk as a replacement for the previous automatic domain redirect to google.com.hk that they told Google was not acceptable.

Okay, so instead of an automatic redirect, users just need to click once to get to the same google.com.hk search engine? Not much of a difference and the Chinese government can’t be stupid enough to not realize that3. The big news is how this little change has allowed Google to continue providing a mainland-accessible search engine service to mainland internet users without having to comply with mainland China self-censorship requirements.

Why? Because everyone thought that Google would no longer be able to offer internet search services to mainland Chinese internet users if it doesn’t self-censor like Bing or Baidu or other mainland Chinese search engines. Google is finding a way to do so and though its market share has deteriorated, it hasn’t deteriorated as fast as would happen if Google were unable to offer any kind of search engine service to mainland Chinese netizens. Google is simultaneously staying in the mainland China internet search market and not engaging in any censorship it doesn’t like by offering the google.com.hk search engine through the google.cn domain name.

Imagine Baidu setting up a baidu.us company and domain name outside of mainland China that offers an uncensored version of Baidu’s search engine and then redirecting everyone who visits baidu.com to baidu.us. Anyone think the Chinese government would let Baidu get away with that?

Guess what? That’s what the Chinese government is letting Google get away with right now.

Moving on…

As long as China users don’t mind clicking the Hong Kong link, and as long as the Chinese government allows mainland Chinese to access the HK site, Google will have achieved a balance that doesn’t render it entirely irrelevant in China.  Based on the government’s prior behavior, however, if the HK site gets major traffic from mainland China, we would not be surprised if the government eliminated Google’s ability to link to it from its China site.

Yes.

Bottom line, we think Google has come out on the losing end of this negotiation.

What? No!

How?! How has it come out on the losing end? Of what negotiation?

The negotiation over what changes they’d have to make to google.cn to get their ICP license renewed? They won that one, much to the astonishment of just about everyone who knows a big clickable image link is not much difference from an automatic redirect.

The negotiation over search engines operating in mainland China being required to self-censor in compliance with mainland China laws? They lost that one because the Chinese government wouldn’t budge on that or allow them to be an exception but it was Google who initiated that negotiation knowing full-well how unlikely that policy was going to change. They gambled and lost. They cut their losses by shutting down the Google China search engine and redirecting google.cn to google.com.hk. That the Chinese government didn’t immediately and still hasn’t blocked google.com.hk outright is a huge freaking win for Google. See the previous two bolded sentences.

So why does Mr. Blodget (or whoever “we” refers to, all of Silicon Alley Insider?) think Google has come out on the losing side of the negotiation?

Google’s initial stance toward China–do business in the country despite the country’s infantile censorship demands–was a tough decision, but in our opinion it was the right one.  Google’s refusing to do business in the world’s largest and fastest growing Internet market might have made some free speech advocates happy, but it would not have helped anyone in China.  And it certainly wouldn’t have helped Google’s shareholders.

Okay…go on…

Google’s more recent decision, meanwhile–to make a huge show of refusing to censor its search results–may go down as one of the worst in the company’s history.

Uh huh…

Importantly, it wasn’t Google’s decision to stop censoring that was a bad one. It was the way in which Google handled the decision.  By making a big announcement and and redirecting its search engine to Hong Kong, Google left the Chinese government no way to compromise without losing face.  A few months later, Google has had to cave further, providing China with a crippled search engine that effectively censors not just objectionable web pages but just about everything.

Wait…what? Yes, Google tried to use international and public attention to shame the Chinese government on its censorship policies. That was a ballsy move but it failed. The redirection to Hong Kong, however, did not coincide with the “big announcement” (of refusing to censor any longer). Google didn’t do these things together. The redirection came after Google failed to negotiate for itself any acceptable exemptions4 from the Chinese government. In fact, it can be argued that this redirection was something of a face-saving move for Google because it allowed them to claim they were still offering a search engine but without having to self-censor.

The Chinese government, on the other hand, had many options to save face. Right, it was already in a spotlight it didn’t want to be when Google publicly expressed it was no longer willing to self-censor and would risk being kicked out of China. Right, the Chinese government lost some face there but only because they were being harassed about an issue they’re always getting criticized over. At that point, they could either give into Google and lose face for not standing by its own policies and laws or it could ignore Google and keep suffering the same criticisms it already expects. No brainer, they stood by their laws. Google then spent 3 months taking their sweet time before actually stopping any of their self-censorship. They had called the Chinese government out and were now trying to avoid an actual showdown by trying to negotiate something, anything. They failed.

At that point, Google had to decide if it wanted to remain in the mainland China internet search market or not. They chose to remain. However, they also couldn’t or wouldn’t continue self-censoring. So what did they do? They cleverly shut the Google China search engine down and redirect to Hong Kong. Again, I’m repeating myself, but it is important to know and be very clear on how all of this unfolded and why…so you don’t echo or nod your had stupidly at the main things Mr. Blodget is saying.

A smarter move would have been for Google to QUIETLY stop censoring results…and be sluggish about correcting the problem when it was brought to their attention. This would have satisfied the company’s moral qualms while forcing the Chinese government to actually threaten to kick the company out of the country.  Google then could have caved modestly, censoring results here and there, just enough to keep the censors from following through on their threat. This would have provided a much better search engine in China, thus helping Chinese citizens way more than Google is now.  It would also have helped Google’s shareholders, by allowing the company to continue to operating in the biggest future market on the planet.

What the fuck? Okay, sure, that’s a game Google could have played if we believe its “moral qualms” aren’t stronger than its desire to stay in the “biggest future market on the planet.” But we don’t know that. More relevantly, how long could Google play that game before the Chinese government either wises up to it or gets tired of a chronic repeat violator of its laws?

Google shutting down its Google China specific search engine may have made the Chinese government upset that it was no longer agreeing to do what it had years before agreed to, but it was a clear and open change of heart and mind. There was an open disagreement. Sure, the Chinese government may have preferred Google expressing their disagreement in private to minimize the unwanted attention to its censorship policies in the public sphere, but I imagine they’d prefer open disagreement to openly dicking the Chinese government’s censorship policies by suddenly and secretly violating them.

It’s one thing to disagree with your spouse on giving your kid the birds and the bees talk, and another to be secretly showing your kid pornos while your partner isn’t looking, only ceasing your corruption just enough to not get kicked out of the house when you get caught. How many times do you have to get caught before your spouse has had enough? Sure, you’re offering a better sex-ed experience to your kid while you can, but are you fucking serious?

Like Mr. Blodget, I want Google to stay in “the biggest future market on the planet” and I do think Google having a self-censored China-specific search engine would help Chinese netizens more in many — not all — ways than what Google is doing now (redirecting to Google Hong Kong through the Great Firewall). However, I also know Mr. Blodget, like Barron’s,  doesn’t actually have much of a clue of what Google is doing now. More importantly, while its situation is still precarious, Google seems to be happier with what it is doing now, finding ever more clever ways to stay within technical compliance of mainland China laws and regulations, than with operating a dedicated Google China search engine that it has to self-censor.

Sucks for the shareholders though.

As it is, Google will likely quickly become irrelevant in China. Its principled stand, meanwhile, has already been forgotten, and it has gotten next to no support from any other foreign companies.  Baidu’s share of the China market is surging, and it will likely continue to do so.  And Google’s stock price has dropped sharply.

No. Why would Google likely quickly become irrelevant in China as a result of yesterday’s news any more than after its shuttering of the Google China search engine at the end of March? If anything, yesterday’s news, when actually understood, has given Google’s endeavor to continue offering an uncensored search engine to mainland China another lease on life. The Chinese government could have refused to renew the license and shut down the google.cn domain name entirely, citing the image link as not significantly different from an automatic redirect, thereby removing another known and previously well-marketed point of access to Google’s services for the mainland Chinese internet users. It didn’t. This allows Google to still fight for relevance in the China market.

As for the forgetting of Google’s “principled” stand, was anyone surprised?

Now, you might remember the star next to Mr. Blodget’s blog post title. This is what it leads to:

*UPDATE: Google provided the following in response to the original version of this post:

“As we said in our June blog, we asked the government to renew our license on the basis that we would make some products–which don’t require any filtering by Google–available locally on Google.cn. We will continue to offer our uncensored web search and other services through .com.hk–so it’s entirely consistent with the position we set out earlier this year.”

A person familiar with Google’s position on this matter argues that, under this new solution, the company is not censoring anything and has not had to “cave” in the least.

We disagree with that view, as we feel the company’s China search engine has gone from censoring a handful of sites to censoring the entire Internet. We also note that Google has been forced to stop automatically redirecting .cn users to the HK site and instead merely provide a link to the HK site (which, as we understand it, China users were already able to access). That said, we can see how the solution does address Google’s moral qualms, as the company is no longer being forced to block some sites and not others.

“We disagree with that view”? I can’t believe Google themselves sent a message trying to clear things up for Mr. Blodget and he’s still misunderstanding and confidently misrepresenting the entire Google China drama as well as the ramification and implications of yesterday’s ICP renewal news. Seriously, what the hell is going on here?

Mr. Blodget, listen again to that person familiar with Google’s position on this matter. Now, I disagree with that person that Google hasn’t had to “cave” insofar as they had to “cave” a little by stopping the automatic redirection of the google.cn domain name and making a dummy image link instead. But that’s just clever of Google. I’m pretty sure the people are Google weren’t even sure if that little change would work and they were laughing their asses off when it did. It is absolutely incredible that the Chinese government is playing along with this, but hey, not that anyone who wants Google to remain accessible in China is complaining, right?

But look, the entire last paragraph is just another frightening example of how completely but arrogantly ignorant Mr. Blodget is on this matter. Now, I’m sure Mr. Blodget is an intelligent person with many other competencies, but they clearly were not brought to bear here.

Had to be said.


  1. This will be long, very long. []
  2. I don’t know if Bill feels the same way but whatever, these are my feelings of embarrassment. []
  3. …though after reading so many people who still do not understand this entire Google China drama, maybe they are. []
  4. from mandated self-censorship for any search engine operating in mainland China []



33 Comments

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  1. -+

    “How can some­one who has “ran Merrill’s [Mer­rill Lynch] global Inter­net research prac­tice and was ranked the No. 1 Inter­net and eCom­merce ana­lyst on Wall Street by Insti­tu­tional Investor and Green­wich Asso­ciates” be so com­pletely igno­rant as to be neg­li­gent about Google’s sit­u­a­tion in China yet be so con­fi­dently opinionated?”
    I’m guessing his family is well connected…

  2. stansmith

    -+

    Well, HB doesn’t always say what he means. He is, in his own words, “a piece of s***”.

  3. VOC

    -+-2

    Kai, do you really think this is a matter of Henry Blodget being incompetent? To me its more like mass control of the media by the US government.

    It’s been long ascertained that control of the media is the ultimate means of manipulating people by grooming them from a young age and influencing the minds of the gullible and astute. This is just an example of this happening.

    Do you think its a coincidence that you type in a search for news of the Dalai Lama and you find nothing negative about this oppressive political monk?

    That somehow in every article “China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence despite the Dalai’s claims he is seeking meaningless autonomy?”

    Or that somehow the word ‘communist’ gets placed in sentences involving China simply because it vilifies the reputation of the government?

    What really, is the point of reading political news from America about China. Media warfare is the new means of controlling the minds of a nation. And to this extent, expect more of bs from the US media.

    • -++1

      “China” shouldn’t be associated with “Communism”? Did the CCP change its name over the weekend and we all just failed to get the memo?

      • whichone

        -+

        There is often little need to specify a country’s political system when reporting news in other matters. The reason China is always reported as “Communist China” is for connotations unrelated to informing the public, after all, I don’t see Singapore mentioned as a Fascist state or U.S. a Presidential Republic every time they are mentioned, nor should they be.

    • -++3

      “…the media is the ulti­mate means of manip­u­lat­ing peo­ple by groom­ing them from a young age and influ­enc­ing the minds of the gullible…”

      And then,

      “… you type in a search for news of the Dalai Lama and you find noth­ing neg­a­tive about this oppres­sive polit­i­cal monk…”

      Way to prove your own point, VOC.

    • -+

      VOC: I’m giving Henry and reality the benefit of the doubt when I don’t automatically assume they’re some puppet for some worldwide political conspiracy. If he is part of some coordinated effort to shape public opinion, consider me falling into that trap. Otherwise, I’m just being honest about my reactions to what I assume is his honest opinion about this issue.

      Jeremiah: I agree with you and I agree with VOC in part over the invocation of “communism”. Both of you are right and both of you have a point.

      whichone: Rock on.

    • Cleo

      -+-3

      Nobody cares about Tibet and China proved that when they revealed “some” of their photographic evidence and witness testimony regarding Ye Olde Daze and it wasn’t just anti-Chinese Western media that didn’t cover it, it was that worldwide, no one cares about Tibet news be it good or bad, be it China as the bad guy or the savior. I’m sure the Chinese were not surprised and weren’t even hoping to be exonerated. They were just making a point. That violence in Paris during the Olympic torch relay will cause such resentment in ordinary American citizens because darling, there is no place for an uppity Mongolian looking minority in the First World countries i.e. the white countries (minus Germany who “spontaneously” had a candlelight vigil in 1000(google it!) towns in support of their Tibetan allies.)

  4. whichone

    -++1

    Your first footnote stopped me dead in my tracks because what you consider as a very long post is most definitely beyond my attention span, and I glanced at only the bold sentences.

    My impression is at any given issue there will be many professionals who should but does not know the topic well, their comments may mislead but your extra long rebuttal on an internet blog probably gets a lot more tl;dr eye rolls than honest converts who might otherwise learn something.

  5. gregorylent

    -+

    why pay attention to blodget? his blog is just a page-view trick machine, and as you note, he ain’t that smart.

  6. -+

    No need to sugarcoat things Kai; lay it on the line.

  7. Iknow

    -++3

    Kai does have a tendency to write too much, sometimes incoherently too.

  8. Stu

    -++1

    Based on a quick news search for ‘Communist China’, it’s used:

    1. In stories about the mainland and Taiwan- the term is used to describe the area under the Communist Party’s control. Makes sense to me.

    2. Historically. There was a China before 1949, so China in the period after that is called ‘Communist China’. Interestingly, this one now seems to sometimes be used in the past tense to refer to the Mao years.

    But you’re probably right that it’s sometimes used in a biased way. So, having made the startling discovery that media can be biased… where do you get your news? Do you ask God?

  9. Simon Ningbo

    -++1

    Too much text, can you post some funny pictures in between next time to keep me entertained ? I just couldn’t be bothered to read all that and I guess I’m not the only one.

  10. -+

    Wow. Thanks. That’s a lot of analysis of my post!

    But let’s step back a bit.

    If you roll back the clock three months, Google had a China search engine and was making a good showing in the market. Yes, they had to play ball with China’s infantile censorship policies and that must have been galling, especially after China hackers broke into their main security systems. But having a China search engine was better than not having one, from the perspective of all involved (shareholders, Google’s future, Chinese).

    Now, after making a big bet (shame China publicly) and losing, Google has a crippled China property and a link to a the HK search engine that FOR NOW the Chinese government is allowing Chinese citizens to access. And they have that only after being forced to kill the direct redirect.

    Yes, it is better that Google is still allowed to have a .cn site than not having it (the “good news” here), but the only way Google has been allowed to keep the .cn site is effectively through censorship–its main product is no longer available on the site. I understand that Google feels better that it doesn’t have to censor some sites and not others, but the product it is providing to China on the .cn site is now worse than the one it was providing three months ago.

    I don’t think whatever satisfaction Google gains from “not censoring” specific sites is worth what the company has cost shareholders and Chinese. Some people at Google may disagree, although I doubt all folks in the company do.

    Bottom line, Google is in a much worse position in the biggest future market in the world than it was three months ago, and it has gained nothing other than some personal satisfaction. Thus my conclusion that they blew it.

    • -+

      Henry,

      If we step back a bit, you’d know that we both agree on Google having made a bad bet/move on challenging the Chinese government. I don’t expect you to read what I’ve previously written but I do think Google’s move in December and March was bad for Google’s shareholders, Google, and the Chinese. I’ve argued a lot especially for the ramifications of Google’s actions on Chinese netizens.

      But that’s not the point of my analysis here. My point here is that you’re supposed to know better and because you didn’t, you’re perpetuating false information and false analysis of Google’s situation. That’s a disservice to investors and watchers of this saga.

      but the only way Google has been allowed to keep the .cn site is effectively through censorship–its main product is no longer available on the site.

      How is it not available, Henry? The coup that Google has pulled off is in substituting the previously self-censored Google China specific search engine with the uncensored Google Hong Kong search engine. For users, google.cn still leads to a working search engine. Remember, google.cn was as much at the mercy of the GFW as google.com.hk is now.

      I do think the GFW censored google.com.hk is IN SOME WAYS worse than the previous google.cn (aka Google China specific) search engine because GFW connection resets are in some ways worse than incomplete search results but that’s a matter of perspective. The real benefit that Google could’ve brought to mainland Chinese netizens was not in controversial search results but in the ranking and presentation of organic search results vis a vis Baidu. See my other posts on that issue.

      I agree not everyone at Google, like Schmidt, agrees their actions in the past half year were worth it. But that’s not what I’m taking you to task for. I’m fine with your overall conclusion that Google blew it, but this is not about disagreeing with your overall feelings about Google blowing it or not. It is about you misrepresenting what has happened and the import of what has happened. It’s one thing to offer a conclusion. It is another thing to try to explain and convince others of your conclusion through faulty testimony. Others should agree with your (and my) conclusion from an accurate understanding of what happened and why.

      • VOC

        -+-2

        1.0

        You know Kai,

        on the bus back from work I was contemplating whether I should, or whether some other person would perpetuate as Henry Blodget and comment here.

        I was even thinking about how I/they would do it, considering the absolute falsity of his article. It’s not like he could turn around and find a different interpretation to what he wrote. Ironically someone acted ahead of time.

        2.0

        Kai, have you read the political news from Russia Daily?

        They often invite investigative journalist Webster Tarpley to comment on political issues. Its really quite informative.

        Now, I’m not naive enough to believe everything that comes from Webster is true, as he is limited by his own lack of qualification in the fields of economics and finance but there is some merit to his reasoning.

        There is merit in being cynical and being able to form one’s own analysis and understanding of mainstream political issues. I for one expect nothing but anti-china propaganda to emanate from US media reports. So far, I’ve been proved right over the course of the last year.

        I thoroughly suggest that you watch some you tube videos relating to Webster Tarpley. He even has a report relating to the Google issue and what it means politically. I’d like to know your interpretation of his lecture.

        Here is the link:

        http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=webster+tarpley+google&aq=f

        3.0

        Kai, you and I share some similarities in our background. To some limited extent, we think alike. I’d like to know whether we share some common beliefs.

        See below:

        Here are some examples of what I believe to be US state propaganda and what makes me very cynical when it comes to reading news often permeating from Washington Daily which seems to be the US antithesis of XinHua news.

        Regarding Tibet

        1. The consistent claim that the Dalai Lama is the spiritual/religious leader of Tibetan Buddhism.

        -No he is not, there are several branches of Buddhism and it would be incorrect to call him the ‘leader’.

        2. The claim that the Dalai Lama wants meaningful autonomy.

        - There are latent messages in the wording that each article which somehow deals with this, each of them biased against China.

        The idea of meaningful autonomy really shouldn’t be used unless there can be evidence of what the Dalai Lama demands in his negotiations with China. I have heard that his demands do in fact closely accord to complete independence without the ‘tag.’

        3. Western media very conveniently neglects to mention any of the Dalai Lama’s shady history including the details of his exile; CIA support; the fact his brother is in the CIA; the fact that there is a document in the CIA website about ‘issues pertaining Tibet’ where there is evidence of CIA financial support of aiding in Guerrilla warfare against China. As well as the fact that the Dalai Lama’s head advisor was in fact Heinrich Harrer, a Nazi death squad leader.

        They also fail to mention his non-vegetarian diet, despite there being a current news article ‘turn vegetarian on the Dalai Lama’s birthday’. I also find it disgusting how ironically, the Dalai’s reign on Tibet was categorised by extreme feudalism and that when failed his uprising, he left with the majority of Tibet’s wealth at the expense of Tibetan citizens.

        2. Chinese hackers broke into google security.

        The last time I checked, there was no conclusive evidence of this being the case. There was a suspicion that it was the doing of Chinese hackers, but nothing more than that. It is libellous to print this sort of statement without further proof.

        Conclusion

        I had more to write, but quite frankly, I just had a mind blank and now I can’t remember :P Although with what I’ve written so far, I’m sure you can gain an understanding where I’m coming from.

        Refresh: This wasn’t what I was going to say, but I remember that there was a non-mainstream article online which talks about lecturers and people who were allowed to present talks on particular political issues, the moment they wanted to talk about the other side of the story of Tibet, and were denied the broadcast without reason. Can’t remember the URL.

        So when I read about Henry Blodget, doesn’t know crap about google. I’d be very surprised if he ‘did’ because I believe it would be contrary to the United States national policy.

        • -++1

          1.0 – Perpetuate as Henry Blodget? You mean commenting here pretending to be him?

          2.0 – I’ll try to remember to watch it after the current World Cup final.

          3.0 – I’d rather not get so off-topic here and you can refer to previous posts relating to the issues you’ve brought up for my opinions. Overall, though, I don’t see the American media being as managed as Chinese state media…unless we presuppose it is just less obvious because of some more sinister sophistication. That’s a bit to conspiratorial for me, though, when I feel the more likely answer is that there’s genuinely more diversity.

          • VOC

            -++2

            1.0 Yes, I mean pretending to be him.

            2.0 I’m sure you’d find it interesting, and I’m surprised you haven’t seen his casts earlier.

            BTW: What’s the best stream to watch it online. My TV is broke.

            3.0 I’ve just started reading this blog, so not sure where to find them.

            It’s funny that when there is a clash between what we believe and what ‘could be’ something different, people tend to become defensive to their own beliefs.

            In this case, tagging something as being a ‘conspiracy theory’ perhaps for a lack of a better way to describe it. That is, describing an alternate facet of the picture.

            I tend to believe that American media is the other side of the coin to Chinese media. Yes, I do think it is more sinister because what underlies it is much more covert and really a realisation of what many pop culture movies have hinted towards. That is, buying of the minds of readers.

            I’d like to agree that there is genuinely more diversity. But that can hardly be the case, when only negative points are raised as to what could potentially be viewed in its antithesis. I assure you that after watching many of Webster Tarpley’s videos, you will be enlightened, fascinated and change your point of view. The other possibility is that you find him completely delusional, uninformed and making unsupported proclamations of fact. One or the other, I personally lean towards the first. I’ll be here waiting for your reply.

            First of all, I’m looking for a good stream for the world cup :)

          • -+

            VOC,

            1.0 – I don’t have enough information to confirm it is Henry Blodget himself or a pretender but I don’t have enough to doubt it is either.

            2.0 & 3.0 – I watched a couple of the videos off the YouTube Channel. I feel that Occam’s Razor needs to be applied to Webster’s arguments, or I’m going to admit to preferring to be blissfully ignorant. What is that? The blue pill? Or the red one?

            Is the American media the opposite side of the coin from Chinese media? In some ways, yes, but I think there are qualitative differences that are still worth acknowledging. I maintain that there is more diversity in American/Western media in a way significantly different from Chinese media. This does not disprove that there are mainstream, even exploitative, narratives in each about the other that serve specific interests.

          • VOC

            -+

            1.0 Sure, but cynicism is often a quality rather than a fault, especially when we are dealing with the credibility of an online profile linked only by IP Address.

            2.0 Yes, I felt the same way when viewing some of his commentaries. Although history often perpetuates at some level, reflecting past events and cycles.

            Perhaps it would be more naive however to accept events presented by the media at face value. If one were to take the principle of parsimony in each case, then the media would inevitably control people like sheep.

            I’m going to admit to pre­fer­ring to be bliss­fully igno­rant.

            Thanks for softening your sentence with the word ‘ignorant’ which of course encapsulates the idea of being deliberately uninformed with the word blissful, which connotes that you feel it is to your benefit not to absorb what you find is unnecessary and based on what you feel Webster constructs under the pre-tense of arbitrary assumptions.

            3.0 Perhaps there is more diversity in American media when dealing with negative publicity relating to matters of social significance. However, where dealing with national and political interests, I maintain the position that they are as bad as the ‘Chinese’, taking the example of of Tibet and Google.

            What is that? The blue pill? Or the red one?

            I’ve read your previous comments on CNReviews in the past, an I have formed the opinion that you are fairly closed minded.

            I’m willing to test my assumption by challenging you to discuss some of Webster’s theories on this website. Plenty of his commentaries refer both to the appreciation of the Yuan, Google and climate change, which are quite relevant to China Divide.

            Of course, you are well within your right to decline but I would think that you might find it both interesting and intellectually stimulating. You’d probably hit more traffic too. Your column, your call.

            What I find perhaps, disturbing, is that you seem to be buying in to mainstream media without questioning censorship and political influence.

            As a blogger, I would think that you would also be a ‘thinker’ which should lead you to ask ‘what does the word conspiracy mean, and why is this the first word that comes to mind when I think of an alternative less publicly available set of information which can describe the same event but in a more sinister way?

            Yes, its easy to view a event with tinted lenses, and defensively if not unconsciously reject an alternative explanation of reality. It’s why the media can influence, just consider how the word ‘conspiracy’ can deflect a thousand valid reasons, just by using it in conjunction together with the explanation. Rather than taking the principle or epistemological model at face value, look at it closely. After all, a model is a simplification of reality.

  11. Bin Wang

    -+

    Isn’t HB just advocating for a quiet violation of Chinese law here? Yeah, that’s smart …

    That’s like, to put it in basic U.S. legal terms, finding the smoking gun document that kills your client’s case and, oh, just sorta draggin’ your feet about producing it in discovery. You know, if they press you about it, hum and haw, produce this or that other thing, see if it all blows over …

    Sure, there’s a good chance you’re never actually forced to produce it and no one ever finds out you buried it and your client wins … but it’s also illegal.

    • -+

      *points to Henry Blodget’s background on Wall St.*

      • VOC

        -+

        Hi Kai, I’m still checking for your response to see if you’ve heard any of Websters commentaries. I was listening to a news broadcast today:

        Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzKvtvxqURw

        “What people know as google earth is the CIA’s project keyhole”

        “Google criticizes Chinese censorship but they are in themselves an engine for US censorship”

        “In China, they might accuse you of anti state activity, in the US they will accuse you of spamming or hate speech”

  12. zball

    -+

    What’s the difference? Does normal netizen really care for who’s the actual monster and who’s the accomplice behind the censorship? On this point, I can see where Henry’s points stem from.

    The biggest IT market is there and google wants the market share. As one Chinese saying goes – Google leads the life of a whore and yet expects to be recognized as a celibacy. Well, no matter how street smart Google is, playing technical trick will not remodel her into a virgin.

    • pug_ster

      -+

      Google leads the life of a whore and yet expects to be rec­og­nized as a celibacy. Well, no mat­ter how street smart Google is, play­ing tech­ni­cal trick will not remodel her into a virgin.

      I like that. LOL.

Continuing the Discussion