A Question of "Face" or Losing the Same
Google, of course, isn’t into censorship. It threatened to shut-down its search engine and possibly leave the country completely. Some observers believe the real reason for the censorship is to prevent China’s citizens from gaining access to politically sensitive information and images.
In order to explore the possibility of an acceptable compromise, Google has temporarily agreed to the censored search engine while Google and the Chinese government try to pursue a negotiated solution to the problem. Apparently, China’s public stance differs from its private one. Observers believe China doesn’t want to lose face by appearing to be anti-technology. And at the same time, Google wants to keep China’s very lucrative market. It is widely believed these tensions so far have prevented a compromise.
Google notes that its China web site has been subject to hack attacks from within China that have resulted in some of Google’s intellectual property being stolen. Google has not directly blamed the Chinese government for these attacks, since Google’s site was not the only site hacked. It is believed that a number of other large companies from various business sectors in the U.S. were also attacked. Google and the U.S. government are investigating in an effort to determine the identity of the hackers.
Google suspects the attack on its web site was for the purpose of accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents. Google says, however, that the attack was unsuccessful because only two accounts were accessed. The only information accessed in these two accounts was information such as the date the accounts were opened and the subject line of emails, but not the content of the emails themselves.
I will closely be monitoring this controversy to see who blinks first. Stay tuned.