News came out the other day that Google has finally rolled out a solution to their censorship dispute with the Chinese government. Instead of “pulling out” their business from China, they are moving their servers in Mainland China to Hong Kong. They will also adopt a new Hong Kong domain name, and direct everybody who accesses Google.cn in Mainland China to the Google.com.hk. Ideally they can provide uncensored Chinese search results on this Hong Kong site to Chinese people this way, but is this Utopian situation likely to happen? According to Google’s official blog, they do not seem to be that sure about it themselves:
“We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced—it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services.”
Many analysts in the U.S. have backed Google’s act simply by stating how dominant Google’s market share is in everywhere in the world and how Google China has only brought in a tiny bit of revenue to the overall Google colossus in the past couple of years, so Google China’s demise does not need to be a major concern to Google. But I still feel very sorry that Google is going to miss out on the big potential internet market in China, and the exploding mobile market across the Pacific Ocean. I read the other day on eMarketer that the number of mobile web users in China will soon exceed the U.S. population by the end of this year. Even though Google says it is still going to try to push out the Android mobile platform in China, Google’s ambitions for Android in this giant Chinese mobile market are surely going to be largely compromised. Also, if Google’s search engine and all other Google services that serve as the backbone to its lucrative ad business may be potentially blocked, then what is the point of Google pushing the free Android platform in China anyway? Their OS may not even be bring in the ad revenue Google needs.
Google has been on the blacklist of the Chinese government that is for sure. Xinhua News Agency, the government-backed “official” news agency has just run a fulminating article criticizing Google’s recent discord with the government titled “China declines political Google and Google’s politics” .
In response, Google in its typical simple manner, launched a plain site that tracks Google services’ accessibility in Mainland China. My first response seeing this list was: “What?! Blogger is also banned in Mainland China?!” I wonder if WordPress is accessible there. I will for sure go back to the site often to check the “status quo” in China.