Editor's note: After four years' developing business in China, Google's revolt timing is likely pregnant with meaning.
"When in Rome, do as the Romans do."
This is the convention for proper behavior for companies conducting business in a foreign country. Compliance with the country's laws and regulations is also standard practice for international businesses.
Despite the colonial era when a foreign company such as the British East India Company could assume an overriding power over a sovereign state, in modern times an individual foreign company never gains the upper hand when it's in trouble with a country's laws.
Any attempt to challenge the sovereignty of a country is doomed to fail. But the cyberattack controversy surrounding Google and its developments are increasingly challenging our common sense and knowledge about the world.
Four years ago, the search engine leader came to China and accepted the legal norms of the country, which regulates the Internet as a necessary protection to the interests of the largest group of netizens in the world.
Google grew in the Chinese market while many in the country used its search engine.
Four years later, it suddenly announced it no longer wants to follow the rules it had no trouble following earlier. With the United States throwing its weight behind it under the pretext of Internet freedom, Google thinks it may have a chance to press the Chinese government into giving its search engine no restriction at all across the border.
Business is business. But when it involves political tricks, business will come to an end soon.
The more Google politicizes the issue, the less room it leaves for itself for further negotiations.
And netizens here, who are known for their inclination for novelties, will simply move on to other search engines if Google pulls out of a large and growing market. The US company will be the biggest loser in all of this.
(China Daily 03/22/2010 page8)