Saturday, March 27, 2010

Google and China

Reading today in the NYT about China barring a prominent scholar from leaving the country to lecture at Harvard this week and later participate in a conference on Asian Studies in Philadelphia, it reinforced the urgency and courage of Google's recent action. Google's decision to move their server to Hong Kong and risk(assure)the hostility of the Chinese government was one of principle, not earnings per share or competitive positioning.

China is the biggest market opportunity in the world of business. Google did make some compromises that were uncharacteristic of the company four years ago when it entered the Chinese market to gain access to such opportunity. They were pushed to the breaking point by Chinese censureship, government meddling in their business, and apparently government orchestrated hacker attacks on its infrastructure. When it comes to competitive business practices Google is not necessarily any saint as it works to be first to any market niche and corner(monopolize) it before any one else can through its systems and savvy. In this case, however, Google took the high road and stood up to the Communist party apparatus that controls the intellectual, political, and religious life of the country. Their other businesses in China will suffer as well but the long range impact on Chinese government behavior may be greater than anything that the timid complaints of the U.S. government and others can accomplish.


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