Google statement on China, and responses - Jan 2010

On 12 January 2010, Google announced that it was reviewing its business operations in China due to censorship and cyber attacks on Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.  Below is a selection of commentaries & articles on this subject:

- Official Google statement: "A new approach to China", David Drummond, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer

NGO responses

- "China's Censorship of the Internet Must Stop", Amnesty International, 13 Jan 2010

- "Google stops its censorship in China: Amnesty response", Amnesty International UK, 13 Jan 2010

- [Français] "Amnistie internationale demande à Google de rester", Amnesty International, 13 Jan 2010
"Amnistie internationale [Canada francophone]...demande [à Google] rester dans l'empire du Milieu, mais dorénavant dans le respect des droits de la personne."

- "Human-Rights Activists Applaud Google Move", Geoffrey A. Fowler, Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan 2010
"We think this is a courageous move by Google," says Jim Dempsey,...[of] the Center for Democracy and Technology...Sharon Hom, the executive director of...Human Rights In China...called Google's statement "courageous."... 

- "China: Google Challenges Censorship - Other Companies Should Follow Suit", Human Rights Watch, 12 Jan 2010

- "Index on Censorship Salutes Google Stand on Free Expression",  Index on Censorship, 13 Jan 2010

- "Google China decision: 'remarkable, courageous, and far-reaching'", Salil Tripathi, Institute for Human Rights and Business, 14 Jan 2010
"...Google could have opted for the path of least resistance...Many other companies would have done that, saying they were only following orders, and complying with local laws...While Google’s response has been polite, it is firm. There is a line it will not cross..."

- "Google Gets on the Right Side of History", Rebecca MacKinnon, Fellow at Open Society Institute & Internet freedom expert, 13 Jan 2010
"...Google is in for a rough few months ahead. In the longer run, history will reveal to the Chinese people who their real friends have been."

- "Google rebels against China's internet censors", Reporters Without Borders, 14 Jan 2010
     - [Français] "Google se rebelle contre les censeurs du web", Reporters sans frontières

Additional media coverage & commentary

- "Google, Citing Attack, Threatens to Exit China", Andrew Jacobs & Miguel Helft, New York Times, 12 Jan 2010
"....The move, if followed through, would be a highly unusual rebuke of China... Google has come under fire for abetting a system that increasingly restricts what citizens can read online... [Google's statement is] likely to enrage the Chinese authorities, who deny that they censor the Internet... The company said it would try to negotiate a new arrangement to provide uncensored results on its search site, But that is a highly unlikely prospect..."

- "Companies rethink China strategies", Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times, 13 Jan 2010
"For the past two decades, western and multinational corporations have argued for greater political and commercial engagement with China... But during the past year...[there has been a] rethink[ing of] the policy of unquestioning engagement...[Said] one western official...'Previously, when politicians in the west wanted to criticise China for its human rights abuses or other issues, multinationals would quietly lobby governments not to make a big fuss. But that appears to be changing.' "

- "Chinese Internet users praise Google's threat to exit", David Pierson & Barbara Demick, Los Angeles Times, 13 Jan 2010
"It is the first time a company this size has made a stand like this. People are cheering Google," said Jeremy Goldkorn, [who runs the] influential website, Bei Feng, a blogger who led a campaign to abolish [China's "Great Firewall" Internet filter], said..."I admire Google's decision a lot"...

- "Far-Ranging Support for Google’s China Move", Michael Wines, New York Times,14 Jan 2010
"Google’s surprising decision this week to abandon cooperation with Chinese government galvanizing an unusually broad coalition of foreigners...from the American right and left, the business and technology communities and human-rights advocacy groups..."

- "China defends censorship after Google threat", Chris Buckley and Lucy Hornby, Reuters, 14 Jan 2010
"China defended its extensive censorship and brushed aside hacking claims on Thursday, telling companies not to buck state control of the Internet... Minister Wang Chen of China's State Council Information Office...[made] comments suggest[ing] little room for compromise in the feud over Internet freedom."

- "Google reconsiders China strategy", Stephen Frost, CSR Asia, 13 Jan 2010
"Google’s announcement is in stark contrast to a comment last year from Yahoo! CEO, Carol Bartz."

- "White House backs Google, seeks China explanation", Jeff Mason & Paul Eckert, Reuters, 14 Jan 2010

- "Yahoo sides with Google over China cyber attack", Hibah Yousuf,, 13 Jan 2010
"Yahoo Inc. gave its support to rival Google..., denouncing an alleged cyber attack originating in China against Google... [A] Yahoo representative said...,'We stand aligned with Google that these kinds of attacks are deeply disturbing and strongly believe that the violation of user privacy is something that we as Internet pioneers must all oppose.' "

- "Alibaba slams Yahoo's statement on Google", Melanie Lee, Reuters, 16 Jan 2010
"..."Alibaba Group has communicated to Yahoo! that Yahoo's statement that it is 'aligned' with the position Google took last week was reckless given the lack of facts in evidence," the firm said..."

- "Microsoft: “Don’t Be Evil” Is Google’s Motto, Not Ours", John Paczkowski, Digital Daily, 14 Jan 2010
"Microsoft sees no need for a “new approach to China”... In an interview with CNBC today, CEO Steve Ballmer said his company has no plans to cease operations in China or take a moral stand on the Chinese government’s attitude toward free speech."

- "Google Threat Jolts Chinese Internet Industry", Loretta Chao & Aaron Back, Wall Street Journal, 14 Jan 2010
"...China's official state media offered limited coverage of the issue, and news portals later in the day began restricting coverage of the story after being ordered to play down coverage of it, according to several people working for the portals. Several sites had translated and posted the full text of the statement by David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer..., but these translations appeared to have been removed soon after they were posted."

- "Google ripple effects rock net generation", Geoff Dyer, Financial Times, 14 Jan 2010
"Google’s move has produced ripple effects that go well beyond China’s vast internet market. It has potentially opened up a new Sino-US dispute and shone a rare light on the thoroughly 21st century world of cyberattacks. But one of the most intriguing issues is the possible impact on the politics of China’s internet generation."

- "The Chinese dissident’s ‘unknown visitors’ ", Jamil Anderlini, Financial Times, 15 Jan 2010
"The last month has been difficult for Ai Weiwei, one of China’s most famous artists and political dissidents.  Two of his Google e-mail accounts have been hacked by “unknown visitors”..., and state security agents have rifled through his bank accounts after telling bank staff he was under investigation for unspecified suspected crimes... Google’s decision to risk its Chinese business operations in protest over the hacking of Gmail accounts belonging to Mr Ai and other Chinese dissidents comes after a month in which Beijing has repeatedly ignored international criticism and struck a tough stance on a procession of human rights cases.  “Over the last month we’ve seen a particularly obvious manifestation of the increasingly hardline stance the government is taking...,” according to Joshua Rosenzweig, senior manager at the Dui Hua Foundation, a human rights group."

- "Google's decision on China traces back to founders", Michael Liedtke, AP, 14 Jan 2010
"Google Inc. co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page have always said they put their principles before profit...  The billionaires' idealism underlies [Google's] potentially expensive decision disclosed this week..."

- [Español] "Google podría irse de China por la censura y los ciberataques", Reuters, 13 Jan 2010

- [Français] "Google rejette la censure chinoise et menace de quitter le pays", Numerama, 14 Jan 2010
"Google...a régulièrement essuyé de virulentes critiques, les activistes autres opposants au régime chinois reprochant à la firme américaine de faire le jeu du pouvoir central, en acceptant censure et filtrage des contenus... Dans un billet publié hier..., David Drummond...a expliqué..."Nous avons des preuves pour supposer que la mission principale des attaquants était d'accéder aux comptes Gmail des militants chinois des droits de l'Homme"... Entre ces nouvelles attaques, combinées avec les tentatives chinoises de limiter la liberté d'expression sur le web, Google a décidé ne plus filtrer les résultats de recherche sur 'Nous savons que cela pourrait très bien conduire à fermer, ainsi que nos bureaux en Chine' souligne l'entreprise. Il faut bien le dire, la décision de Google de réévaluer sa présence en Chine est courageuse. Il serait par ailleurs intéressant que d'autres sociétés du même acabit, comme Microsoft ou Yahoo, suivent le mouvement initié par [Google]..."