Comment: Google is simply not successful in China

Updated: 2010-01-15 16:23
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The following is an excerpt from a comment posted by an Internet user named Gaoren on based in Hubei province.

In an unusually high-profile move, Google publicly announced that it may quit China – sparking a wave of reaction around the world.

"We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on ... We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China," David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, said in a statement posted on the company's official blog.

The statement, entitled "A new approach to China", claims that the company had detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack from China that resulted in the theft of the company's intellectual property.

The news echoed around the world and the western media immediately seized the opportunity to attack China’s censorship and heaped praise on Google, which is not surprising, as indicated by their previous records. But the question remains: Does Google’s threat to pull out really result from what the company and the Western media have claimed, namely, China's censorship?

To begin with, Google has always placed great importance on China. Google would be condemned if it ignored the Chinese market, which has almost 400 million Internet users and is still rimmed with huge potential. The fact that Google risked lawsuits in 2005 to prize Kai-fu Lee from Microsoft is the best evidence. It is no coincidence that was launched shortly after Kai-fu Lee's arrival.

The problem is simply cannot compete with its main domestic rival, A report from China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) shows that as of September 2009's market share in China stood at 77.2 percent, far stripping's 12.7 percent. In fact, the majority of Google's users in China choose as their first choice.

After nearly five years' pushing for the brand of and after investing heavily in, their efforts in the Chinese market are simply not successful, to say the least. Kai-fu Lee's abrupt departure from Google in September 2009 wasn't helpful, either. To answer for its investors and for shareholders to understand a not so favorable environment of global economy, Google's decision to pull out of China comes as no surprise.

Indeed, Google is not the first or only one Western Internet firm that fared miserably in China's Internet market. The online auction and shopping website E-bay's defeat against the domestic, Alibaba's acquisition of Yahoo China, and's dominance in China's instant messaging market, to name just a few, seem to have already foretold's fate.

China's censorship, as a matter of fact, is just Google's management's ingenious excuse to flee the Chinese market in which they failed their investors and shareholders. For one thing, Google entered the China market after censorship was instituted, not vice versa. If anything, China has been loosing its censorship since Google's entry. The best proof is perhaps the free debate over the installation of the filtering software Green Dam, in which the Chinese government finally budged.

A number of notable "mass incidents" are also freely discussed on the Internet - the mass protest over the death of a girl in Weng'an county in Guizhou province, the mass protest over the death of a chef in Hubei province, and the waitress who resisted sexual advance by killing a local official, not to mention quite a few corruption cases that have been brought to the spotlight through the Internet.

Many claim, most likely with ulterior motives, that the shutdown of will leave Chinese netizens isolated from the outside world. That is, simply, untrue. The closure of has little, if any, effect on the Chinese users, as, its global website, is the primary channel they access to search for information. Unfortunately, Google didn't even bother to explain that.

Google's motivation was clear and simple: to earn its share of this huge market. When the company cannot attain the goal and pocket enough money and hopes to find a way out, the Chinese government and its censorship, which the West frequently picks up, just become two convenient scapegoats.