On 03-24-10, Google’s headquarters was hacked. Visitors going to the home page were re-directed to the Chinese site. The issue didn’t last long and visitors will be able to view Google’s site as expected. But this activity certainly puts some pizzazz into the ongoing squable between Google and China.
The origin of the problem, if you didn’t already know it, was that Google is no longer complying with China’s demand for censorship of the search engine. For Google it is human rights vs market share; at least for now. But China is not sitting still on this as evidenced by this mornings little foray, which they may or not have been responsible for.
Some of the commercial fallout has begun by Monday’s decision. Many Chinese are angry and they are boycotting the company’s products. This can easily be translated into extreme jingoism and self-righteousness. Some users in Hong for example Li Ka-Shing , supposedly one of the wealthiest has indicated that he will not be using Google’s products in the future.
For its part Google is still catering to its Chinese users. As one would expect some welcome the new, uncensored version. And for its part Google is also sticking it to the Chinese government when the company left a statement on one of its blogs how Chinese users could continue to use Google’s services. But many Chinese don’t view this freedom from censorship as a mark of freedom but rather a defiance of the Chinese rule of law. For that Google may pay the price.
Indeed, Google’s share price dropped 1.5% but its Chinese rival’s Baidu, rose by 2.6%. So the repercussions are starting from a financial side effect. In the long run Google hopes to repair its relations with the Chinese government; but this is a win-lose situation. China Wins – Google looses. Or Google Wins and China loses. Google complies with the censorship or China lifts the restrictions on censorship. Who wins? Well one is a powerful world wide commercial company, and the other is a powerful Country with more than a billion people in the population.