For a long time, the government of China has kept tight measures on both local and upcoming media so as to avoid possible sabotage of its authority. China uses different tactics to control the media, this can be through observing systems and firewalls, closing down websites and punishing nonconforming journalist, militants and bloggers. The ruthlessness of media restriction caught headlines when Google withdrew its services in China. Google's clash with China on Internet restrictions increased world-wide attention to mass media restrictions in the country. Therefore, this paper is going to give a brief investigation of the relationship of Google and China since it started business in China and also an analysis of the situation.
Relationship and history of Google in China
Google was founded in 1999 by Sergey Brin and Larry Page who branded their company motto as, "Don't Be Evil". In 2000, Google.com started providing a version of the Chinese language. Nonetheless, most of the time the website was not easily accessible since it was slow and unreliable, this is due to the widespread filtering done by the government of China (United States and Congressional-Executive Commission on China, 2011, p.12). By 2002, the Chinese government had blocked Google.com making it totally inaccessible in China. But within a period of two weeks access was restored while Google claimed that it abided by its principles and has not in any way crossed itself with the Chinese rules (Brett et al., 2016, p. 35). But again, at the end of the year, in 2003, Google's website was closed in China.
Influence of Kai-Fu Lee
In July 2005, Kai-Fu Lee who was an ex-executive of Microsoft joined Google firm as an international Deputy President-Manager of China. He then announced a strategy of developing a research station in the country. At the beginning of 2006, they launched Google.cn despite the prevalent disapproval (Gottschau and Patterson, 2013, p.40). In the contract with Google, they agreed to restrict particular websites in order to be able to operate a local Chinese service. They also agreed to notify users whenever a search outcome was restricted and when it was not allowed for them to uphold a service that comprised individual or private information, for instance, Blogger or Gmail within the country (United States and Congressional-Executive Commission on China, 2010, p.21). Since then, Chinese interpretation at Google.com remained filtered.
Google's Clash with China and Consequences
In April 2007, chief executive, Eric Schmidt, gave a positive valuation of how Google was viewed in the country and concluded that Google was on the right part to control China's Internet apart from the challenges including censoring and completion with Baidu.com ("Google Just Says No To China," 2010). In September 2007, Google.cn was officially permitted by the Chinese government to run its website in China. In February 2008, human rights activist Guo Quan promised to prosecute Google and Yahoo for removing his name from the local search results. He claimed and published an article that Google had become submissive to the Chinese Communists which led to up to 10 years imprisonment sentence in 2009 (Branigan, 2010). By October 2008, Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft had signed a contract of charitable rules aimed at reducing the jeopardy that their actions would cause to human rights in China and other nations. It was documented in presence of human right advocates and called for corporations to conform to restriction only when issued a formal legal application.
Media Protest Against Google
A media protest by Beijing against the main Internet search engine of China developed at around December 2008. During that period they criticized firms like Google for operating advertisements from medical websites that were not permitted. Their aim was to confuse the Chinese advertisement market ("Google, China and the facts of life," 2010). In January 2009, China officials accused the company of allowing access to pornography in its search results. By March the company had launched a platform for downloading music for free in China. Same allegations on pornographic content were raised again in April by China. They continued with critics, and by June 2009 they proclaimed to punish Google China for not getting rid of pornographic material present on their search engine. Thus, they suspended Google's accessibility to foreign websites, hence driving away its customers to their competitors Baidu (Thompson, 2006). In the same year, China blocked Google's international website after it resisted the order to suspend some activities.
Google's Efforts to Maintain Presence
In August 2009, China Mobile got ready to unveil modified smartphones founded by Google's Android OS, which challenged Apple Company in China and in September Kai-Fu Lee resigned in September due to a debated tenure of four years, where the firm used a restricted type of quest results to advance its position in the most occupied Internet service in the world (Sun, 2018). In October 2009, Chinese copyright group requested discussions with Google claiming for reimbursement of Chinese writers that had scanned their files in the firm's automated library and at the end of the year, there was a court hearing presented by Mian Mian, an author, against Google claiming they scanned her works, thus increasing the threat to the firm's digital records plan.
Google's Decision to Terminate Services
Google announced in January 2010 that it would terminate restriction of its services in the country and was ready to withdraw its services. In the same month, Eric Schmidt said Google was planning to maintain in China despite being pushed to shut down its local search engine, he emphasized that the firm had a variety of other opportunities in terms of business on the mainland (Angelova, 2010). In March, Google was sure it was going to close down its engine service, while China declared it was not going to negotiate on the issue of censorship, so as to stop Google from shutting down. Soon, Google announced it had seized censoring its search results in China after negotiations with authorities to run a non-restricted service in the country failed (He, 2012, p.51). Hence, they directed all search demands on Google.cn to an arm in Hong Kong.
Renewal of Google's Permit in China
Thereafter, Google declared it was trying its last effort to maintain its existence in the country since the management vowed to close them down. Google offered to create a charitable link to its site at Hong Kong under Google.cn page, instead of mechanically sending users in order to soothe the management before the end of the month when the contract will be terminated (Haerens and Zott, 2014, p.49). Finally, the government of China renewed Google's permit to operate in China, having accepted a negotiation by US search engine where Google conveyed all its traffic from the World's biggest Internet market to a site in Hong Kong away from the range of editors (Boyden, 2013, p.61). Later, they halted the programmed redirect and developed a still landing page providing Chinese users with an alternative to click a link to the restricted Hong Kong site.
Analysis of the case and arguments
Users were outraged that Google contradicted its motto stating "don't be evil." Some proclaim that is more of common sense to human beings and inappropriate for a business with an aim for pursuing profits (Brett et al., 2016, p.38). Google is a powerful company that runs infrastructures that enable a huge portion of the world's population to communicate every day. Google is fitted with tools, applications and a search engine that shapes the perception of most people in the world. This makes Google a superpower company, thus infuriating clashes with governments who see themselves as legal holders of such influence (Tkacheva, 2013, p.65). Governments such as China find Google a threat to their power. Strict and powerful governments find this insulting and become biased on any information provided.
Impact of Chinese Government Restrictions
According to analysis the tough and harsh contract with the Chinese began to harden when their government started to enforce more limitations on how to run the Internet. These included: restricted visits to site such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, and local firms bested Google in the Chinese market (Films for the Humanities " Sciences (Firm) et al., 2013, p.18). Google then learned that it was targeted by hackers who were looking to access accounts of Human rights activists such as Gmail accounts.
Google's Initial Actions and Responses
Google clash with China was a foreseen outcome. It could be predicted since Google started providing its services in China. Google launched a Chinese version of the website known as Google.cn, and within a short time, people realized that the search result was being censored (Liu, 2012, p.33). In this case, Google responded by noting that the company is confined to some specific rules of the country where they are required to censor its search engine and also stick to its company motto.
Ethics and Profit Motives
It was also Google objective to maintain a good citizenship but again required to make the profit (Boyden, 2013, p.13). Later tensions started to intensify when former secretary of state Hillary Clinton spoke about censoring of the Internet targeting China and other countries as main offenders. Clinton insisted that other firms should fight any new information that blinds us and requested that China examine Google's protests against hacking and censorship ("Google, China and the facts of life," 2010). China did not take this lightly and thus replied by saying it did not require teachings from other countries on ways of managing the Internet and found Ms. Clinton's message offensive and disrespectful.
Rise of New Disputes on Internet Freedom
The speech indicated an increase in how the United States approached these issues and could signify a rise in new disputes on the relationship of China and U.S. Initially, both Beijing and Washington saw this as a commercial dispute ("Google Just Says No To China," 2010). After Ms. Clinton's speech, it all shaped the subject that influences fundamental freedoms. The government of U.S. alleged that it was operating within forty countries to come up with ways to avoid Internet limitations, and thus the Congress took about $15 million to support the project (Sun, 2018). Like every other country, China is entitled to the right to demand respect of law from any company working within its territory. Those operating any business in the country must decide whether its aim to pursue profits validates its compliance with rules that some consider immoral or evil. By bringing up their opinions and suggestions, consumers, and customers can shape decision-makers in the boardroom.
Criticism Against Google's Motives
Cynics assert that Google's scandal with China is provoked less by criticism against it than by the recognition that it was not winning the clash for Chinese market share. In this situation, taking the ethical high ground makes both moral and commercial sense. It is immature to think that any firm would disregard important commercial considerations when making such choices (Thompson, 2006). Google's scandal with China trying to limit the flow of information within China is distinct from that of the attacks on Google and other firms. It majorly looks at a cyber-warfare against China's rivals real or imagined because information is the pillar of a modern society.
Cyber Attacks and Defenses
In most governments, it is presumed that they hire cyber experts who develop defenses for use in case of war and in most cases they do (Brett et al., 2016, p.34). On a typical day, the government website in most countries is searched and attacked by many hackers. In most instances, it is not easy to identify who are people behind this, although investigation reveals that Google's attacks allow a distinct signature that specifies Chinese hackers. It does not mean that they are government-backed, nor would any capable hacker make his or her origin clear.
Google's Compliance with Chinese Regulations
Since the launching of Google.cn in 2006, it has abandoned two common applications in the United State, which are emails and the capability to make a blog. This action by Google was an effort to cope with the Chinese government on the censoring of the Internet (Branigan, 2010, p.11). Google also made it simpler for the Chinese officials to censor access to the Internet when it came up with a website Google.cn deprived of offensive material to Chinese authority such as the free will of speech and Taiwanese independence (Haerens and Zott, 2014, p.17). Shortly after Google.cn was launched people accused them of reducing free will of speech in China. For instance, most journalists seriously doomed the deal between China and Google, and termed it as hypocrisy. They referred to it as a dark day for the free will of expression in the land of China.
In summary according to the West, the Chinese government is still very repressive and sees the power of the Internet as a wicked tool that will cause damage to its governmental system (United States and Congressional-Executive Commission on China, 2010, p.29). Moreover, Google has been criticized for assisting the Chinese government in restricting access to the Internet. Instead of condemning Google and China, we must also reflect on the meaning of free will of speech and sovereignty.
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