Posts Tagged 'China'

Google To Pull Out of China?

The blaring headline on the front page of the WSJ this morning is “Google Warns of China Exit Over Hacking.” Given that our next Fight Club bout is on Googled by Ken Autletta, I thought it was worth a Broken Spines comment.

Apparently, the Gmail accounts of 34 companies operating in China were hacked. Although only two accounts were compromised, most of these accounts appear to related to human rights activists with the implication being that the Chinese government was involved. So, Google stomps its feet and says it will no longer censor search results which it has been doing since they began operations in China in 2006. Furthermore, if the Chinese government doesn’t like it “we recognize that this may well mean having to shut down” Wow.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered — combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web — have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. – Google spokesman

Is this the new way state-to-state conflicts will manifest themselves? Are the American and Chinese economies are so interdependent now, that corporate interests outweigh those of the state? Or is the Chinese intelligence service using Google and thereby making this a state issue? In any case, this is good fodder for our Fight Club bout – can’t wait!

Here are some other interesting factoids:

  • China is a tiny portion of Google’s revenue, but China is too strategically important to walk away from
  • Google market share is 29% compared with Chinese search firm Baidu’s of 61% of China’s 338 million web users
  • The head of Google’s China operations (a former Microsoft employee) recently left to start his own company

On a separate but related note, Google recently compromised it’s long held policy of not cluttering their main page with ads. Turns out they’re willing to use that prime space to promote their new phone.

Manifest Destiny

In his column yesterday, David Brooks wrote about America’s boundless verve and optimism. He wrote, “this eschatological faith in the future has motivated generations of Americans…to start up companies with an exaggerated sense of their chances of success. The faith is the molten core of the country’s dynamism.” But he goes on to write that we are experiencing a crisis of faith today.

What’s more, headlines today are saying Obama is getting rebuffed by the Chinese on everything from human rights to currency valuations. President Hu is emboldened by the fact that 86% of Chinese believe their country is on the right track, compared with 37% of Americans. And, I would have to agree that I’m skeptical that our government can address the systemic issues in our economy.

But, it would be un-American to end this post on a sour note. So, Brooks links us to an article from a year ago, before Obama was even elected, by Michael Porter in BusinessWeek titled “Why America Needs an Economic Strategy“. Even a year later, it remains a lucid assessment of where we are today and what we need to do to get back on track. I was amazed to read that the last time there was a public-private President’s Commission on Industrial Competitiveness was in 1983!

Let’s put down the Palin autobiography and get to work.

First Rule of Holes (or Nation Building Starts at Home)

When are we going to stop digging?

After having spent the last three weeks in Beijing, I was delighted to read Thomas Friedman’s column in today’s NYT.  He observes that 7 years ago China began building the infrastructure for the Olympic games.  While 7 years ago the US embarked on the War on Terror.  China now has gleaming new airports, roads and parks not to mention the Bird’s Nest, Aquatic Cube, CCTV tower and other amazing feats of architecture.  What return will we see on our investment in Iraq?  Better metal detectors, armored Humvees and pilotless drones?

Like Friedman, I was impressed by what I saw in Beijing and I can’t agree more with him that Obama needs to focus on nation building at home – not in Iraq, not in Afganistan, not in Georgia, but in America.

China Road? Can the people move forward while bound in shackles?

A recent story in the WSJ about protests over the rape and death of a 16 year old student – the three plaintiffs (two of whom were related to local officials) were held for 24 hrs and released.  Saturday 500 students protested the death and were dispersed and beaten.  This angered the villagers and triggered a protest of 10,000 who set fire to police and government offices in protest to how local officials handled the investigation.  If China is on the road to wealth, prosperity, and a becoming a world superpower – can they get their without basic human rights – freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the freedom to demonstrate/protest? 


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