UPDATE: Xinhua all of a sudden today announces it is revamping its English-language web service as “part of its effort to follow the latest trend of Internet development and help domestic and overseas netizens learn more about China.” And Xinhua removed the original editorial by Liu Si [now a dead link] on the Google issue which I critiqued below and which is now linked via a Sina.com blog. Just to be safe, I’m dumping the text in below (without comment, when it really deserved to be taken apart phrase by phrase) so that the piece doesn’t disappear down the memory hole.
Today’s Xinhua news agency has two posts worth reading:
2010-01-15 14:35 GMT
by Xinhua writer Liu Si
BEIJING, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) — Google China’s exiting statement has sparked worldwide attention to ties between China and the United States this week.
Discussions included China’s web environment, the China-U.S. trade relationship, and others. But it’s inappropriate to play up the issue, or turn it into a political one.
Google’s corporate development and chief legal officer, David Drummond, posted a statement Tuesday on the company’s official blog, saying it was “reviewing the feasibility of our business operations in China.”
According to the statement, the disputes with the Chinese government on Internet regulation and major cyber attacks on his company allegedly originated from China have forced Google to consider exiting.
For overseas businesses, including Google, they should respect laws and regulations as well as relevant policies of their host countries, which is a standard international practice for multinational companies.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said Thursday at a regular press conference that “China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law.”
The world Internet giant has been blamed by the Chinese government for showing too many links to pornographic contents in its search results and thus breaking the Chinese law.
Currently, Google is also handling a case with Chinese writers over online books copyright disputes.
According to a list provided by Google at the end of 2009, its on-line library involves some 80,000 categories of Chinese books, 10 percent of which were works of 2,600 members of the Chinese Writers Association.
On the other hand, cyber attacks are a commonplace issue across the globe even if countries have been making every effort to combat hackers.
“China’s law prohibits cyber crimes including hacker attacks,” Jiang said.
On Tuesday, China’s largest Internet search engine Baidu, which is also Google’s major rival in the Chinese market, suffered an hacker attack that paralyzed its website for more than three hours.
Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer has said that “There are attacks every day …We’re attacked every day from all parts of the world and I think everybody else is too. We didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.”
So it’s far-fetched to blame China as a scapegoat for cyber attacks just because Google said something about that.
In addition, it’s quite natural for a multinational company to shift its market strategy or even pull out business from a certain area.
Since Google.cn was launched in January 2006, it has seen a continuous rise in its market share in China. But it is still unlikely for Google to rock Baidu’s status quo as a superpower in the Chinese search market.
Baidu and Google took 63.9 percent and 31.1 percent of shares, respectively, of China’s Internet search market in the third quarter last year, according to data from Analysys International, a leading advisor on technology, media and telecom industry in China.
While Google’s global share is over 90 percent, according to web analytics company Stat Counter.
Till now, Google’s real intentions to quit China are still not clear.
There is no sense blowing things out of proportion and turning a business issue into a political or diplomatic dispute.
Above all, Google’s decision is no bigger than a corporate action, no matter where the company comes from or how powerful it is.