Google in China
Google, the fast-growing Internet search engine company, was established with a clear mission in mind: to
organize the world's information and make it universally
acceptable and useful. Google has built a highly profitable advertising business on the back of its search engine, which is by far the most widely used in the world.
Under the pay-per-click business model, advertisers pay
Google every time a user of its search engine clicks on
one of the paid links typically listed on the right-hand
side of Google's results page.
Google has long operated with the mantra "don't be
evil"! When this phrase was originally f ormulated, the
central message was ...view middle of the document...
Two weeks later, for reasons that have
never been made clear, Google's service was restored.
Google said that it did not change anything about its
service, but Chinese users soon found t hat t hey could
not access politically sensitive sites that appeared in
Google's search results, suggesting that the government
was censoring more aggressively. The Chinese government has essentially erected a g iant firewall between the
Internet in China and the rest of the world, allowing its
censors to block sites outside of China that are deemed
By late 2004, it was clear to Google that China was a
strategically i mportant market. To exploit the opportunities that China offered, however, the company realized
that it would have to establish operations in China, including its own computer servers and a Chinese home
page. Serving Chinese users from the United States was
too slow, and the service was badly degraded by the censorship imposed. This created a dilemma for the company given the "don't be evil" mantra. Once it
established Chinese operations, it would be subject to
Chinese regulations, including those censoring information. For perhaps 18 months, senior managers inside the
company debated the pros and cons of entering China
directly, as opposed to serving rhe market from its U.S.
site. Ultimately, they decided that the opportunity was
too large to ignore. With over 100 million users, and
that number growing fast, China promised to become
the largest Internet m arket in the world and a m ajor
source of advertising revenue for Google. Moreover,
Google was at a competitive disadvantage relative to its
U.S. rivals, Yahoo and Microsoft's MSN, which had already established operations in China, and to China's
homegrown company, B aidu, which leads the market
for Internet search in China (in 2006 Baidu had around
40 percent of the market for search in China, compared
to Google's 30 percent share).
In mid-2005, Google established a direct sales presence in China. In J anuary 2006, Google rolled out its
Chinese home page, which is hosted on servers based in
China and maintained by Chinese employees in Beijing
and Shanghai. Upon launch, Google stated that its objective was to give Chinese users "the greatest amount of
information possible." It was immediately apparent that
this was not the same as "access to all information." In
accordance with Chinese regulations, Google had decided to engage in self-censorship, excluding results on
such politically sensitive topics as democratic reform,
Taiwanese independence, the banned Falun Gong movement, and references to the notorious Tiananmen Square
massacre of democratic protestors that occurred in 1989.
Human rights activists quickly protested, a rguing t hat
Google had abandoned its principles in order to m ake
greater profits. For its part, Google's managers claimed
that it was better to give Chinese users access to a limited
amount of information than to none...