Google versus China – VPRO documentary – 2011


To date, Google,
the champion of Silicon Valley… …has been market leader
in the search engine sector. In the early 21st century, its turnover
grew on average by 60 percent a year. It was high time to expand. So Google set its sights
on the Chinese market. From another perspective, is our country
ready for free access of information? What if everyone starts to demand
their right to access free information? Most of the time they’ll do this sensibly… …but supposing this right
is somehow abused? Whether it is a country or a company… …can they deal with this freedom? While taking its motto: Don’t Be Evil
very seriously… …Google hoped to conquer
a new market in 2005. A new market with its own
written and unwritten laws…. …where freedom and information don’t
necessarily mean what they do to us. It is a clash between
the free flow of information… …and the conventional political system. And this affects us all. The dilemma therefore
is freedom versus security. Many Chinese companies already operate
in the market Google hopes to enter. Like Benny Zhu’s online marketing
and advertising agency in Shanghai. It is a market in which the average age
of internet company employees is 24. In which a young, well-educated
technocratic generation is raring to go. And where a home-grown competitor
is operating. But also where virtual walls
are becoming increasingly higher. And where even their own intelligentsia,
such as Professor Hu Yong… …a media and internet expert, wasn’t
aware, due to China’s Great Firewall… …that only his name is mentioned
in an official cable on Wikileaks… …which everyone outside China
can easily find on internet. How do you feel about being famous
because of the WikiLeaks cables? I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.
What cables? You’re the only Chinese person
to be mentioned in the WikiLeaks cables. The Chinese government doesn’t know
what to do with internet. On the one hand, it is a new platform
for commercial innovation. So if development isn’t stimulated
China will lag behind technologically. But the Chinese government also fears
that if information is readily available… …it could lead to political conflict. Therefore strict regulations
must be introduced… …that target damaging
and illegal information. These paradoxes have made
the Chinese internet what it is today. With a population of more than one billion,
China is the world’s largest market. It has about 450 million internet users. Benny Zhu’s company works
primarily for the Chinese market. And it operates successfully within
the government’s strict regulations. Foreign companies that want a piece
of this huge market… …do not have to focus too closely
on political issues. But use trade or entertainment
to get into China instead. If it fits into our culture
and they can work with us… …then I see many opportunities
for collaboration. But if they keep harping on… …about human rights,
freedom of speech… …and other political issues
it will come to nothing. Our political systems are so different… …you can’t expect us to change. If you come to our country
you must compromise. If you want to do business,
you must adapt. And if you want to wear something black… Marketing director Michelle Pen is 26… …and started out as a Google trainee
in Shanghai. She now develops internet strategies
for corporate clients and operates… …within the strict boundaries
of China’s infamous Great Firewall. Have your read Harry Potter? It is just like his invisibility cloak. The Great Firewall
is a kind of invisibility cloak. You can’t see it, but you know it’s there. Although you can’t see the person,
you sense his presence. I don’t know how it works,
but technically it does exist. Lost of netizens claim the Firewall
blocks something different every day. The news we find on internet
changes daily. Something may be blocked
today… …but tomorrow we’ll find it
using another route. Some information may still get through… …because the invisibility cloak
can’t cover everything. The Baidu building
resembles a search box. It has a search engine, calculator… …dictionary, virus scanner and e-mail. All on the same platform. Google’s main competitor
in the Chinese market is Baidu. Baidu is China’s own
online search engine. Its global communications
director, Kaiser Kuo… …is a former rock star
who grew up in Tucson, Arizona. My generation of internet users
eat, sleep, make friends… …work, live and expand
their social network on internet. We have microblogs. Every day
I write what I’m doing on my blog. For instance, that I’m now
being interviewed by you. I live my life online. I’m hoping that there will be
more internet freedom. My social network… …consists of my colleagues,
family, friends and classmates. If my classmates go abroad… …and want to contact me via Facebook,
I can’t log in. It’s awful. Meanwhile, Google continued
to expand its mission in China. Michael Chen worked in Google
Shanghai’s sales department. Working for Google
has definitely influenced my world view. This is why I now have
other standards and values. But in 2009, he quit and went to work
for the Chinese competitor, Baidu. I maintain relations with key clients
in the east of China. We have many important clients… …like General Motors in Shanghai,
Coca-Cola, L’Oréal and Nike. Baidu started as a child’s dream. We provide true and reliable facts
from the vast universe of information. This dream has now become reality. Google is just a general search engine. They provide a more or less similar
service to Baidu. Google offers no extras. ‘Google’ is an English word
and is difficult to pronounce. It’s not a word in Chinese,
we can’t spell it, it’s really difficult. It wasn’t until 2008 that Google
changed it’s domain name to g.cn. During the course of 2009,
the first problems surfaced. Now no one’s exactly sure
what created the ill-feeling. But the story goes that one ill-fated day,
propaganda boss Li Changchun… …a Chinese Politburo member and
the fifth most powerful man in China… …Googled himself. And he wasn’t happy with
the critical information he found. So he decided
it was high time to intervene. In January 2010 Google felt it was under
serious threat by Chinese hackers. This is when the whole Chinese
adventure began to falter. We now know that for months
Google and the US State Department… …were convinced that the cyber attacks
came from the Chinese state. Nine days after Google’s alarming reports,
US State Secretary, Hillary Clinton… …decided now was the time to propagate
the US’s policy of a free internet. Some people criticise
the US’s hypocrisy…. …because it demanded
sensitive information from Twitter. Companies providing services to
WikiLeaks are now being pressured too. They criticise another country but they’re
doing the same thing in their own country. Two months later Google decided it
would no longer yield to China’s censure. And so it redirected search queries
to servers in Hong Kong. For seven days, internet users in China
had full access to information. Then the Chinese authorities blocked
all access to Google’s search engine. As an IT worker,
and even as an ordinary citizen… …I find it difficult to accept
that Google is pulling out of China. At the very least,
it’s not a very nice thing to do. Google left under difficult circumstances. But there are so many users
with an emotional connection to it… …that it was irresponsible of Google
to just pull out. Google said that our government
hacked their e-mails… …and looked for anti-Chinese statements
in e-mails. I find this quite normal in politics. I don’t think it’s immoral,
it’s normal practice. It’s normal a government looks after
its own interest. The Chinese government
cannot tolerate extreme opposition. Our government doesn’t want it,
as it is not beneficial to them. Come on, let’s go inside. If I were Google,
how would I handle the situation? As far as your question about
Sergey Brin’s decision is concerned… …we must also consider China’s position.
I understand his perspective… …if you want to make more information
available, some filtering is unavoidable. So why shouldn’t information that is
hostile to government first be filtered? One has to deal with this
if the goal is to expand market share. If you really want to make
all information accessible… …and you stick to these principles… …they could have an undesirable effect. If there’s discord in the country
in which I was born and bred… …and which ultimately polarises people,
then I wouldn’t be happy either. We all want happy, stable
and peaceful lives. I think that Google’s departure… …has had a big impact
on the Chinese market. Baidu always had a market share
of about 70%… …while Google’s market share
was about 20%. But after Google left, it’s market share
fell to about 10%. Google’s turnover in China could be
just 1% of its turnover worldwide… …perhaps a little more
than 1% of its business. I think that if this 1%… …is detrimental to your company’s
basic principles… …or is bad for your company’s image… …it makes sense to pull out.
I think it’s very normal. If Google, the largest internet company,
leaves my country, China… …it will have an economic impact,
especially when it comes to innovation. The financial crisis mainly
affected the industrial sector. We need to develop from low value
industry to high value sector. If there is no innovation and no talent… …if companies do not come to China
then this process will be impossible. This argument was used
against the Chinese government: If internet can’t develop it will have
an adverse effect on modernisation. China’s Great Firewall now blocks
all controversial search terms. Google’s withdrawal has given its
Chinese competitors a free reign… …to conquer this now available
market share. Take the concept of an open,
accessible and honest internet. It is said that freedom of speech
is an American core value… …which is why they promote it worldwide. This opens up a principle debate: Is free communication
a basic human right? If people in a developing country… …cannot exercise their constitutional
rights… …such as freedom of speech, freedom of
assembly or freedom of association… …if economic growth
is put above political freedom… …where will it lead?
That’s the question. We can’t return to the dark days
of the Cultural Revolution. Nowadays people think differently.

17 thoughts on “Google versus China – VPRO documentary – 2011

  1. Google is copying china in the west , see censoredlist.com , YouTube ,twitter and Facebook are all removing posts that are not politically correct , there is no difference.

  2. Warlords The Foundation Of Modern China

    So why did Japan emerge and industrialized rapidly within just a few decades, for the same reason that once the Chinese Communist Party took power civil war stopped in China and for the same reason that Tibet is very dangerous if left in the hands of the West while even the Muslims in Xinjiang did not put any problems it was the Tibetans that mobilized so quickly and in massive numbers and put up a formidable resistance to the Red Guards.
    Apparently unlike Japan who was colonized long after by the Portuguese who most likely orchestrated the rise of the Chrysanthemum throne and most likely change Japanese literature systematically to fit the narrative over a few hundred years, China is not a colony of the West. Apparently Western occupation and opening of China for less than a hundred years was not enough to break the Imperial Structure of the Chinese State, this becomes more apparent because even today there are a lot of communities in China that is remote, very inaccessible and isolated and the Western colonizers are just limited to major cities. No wonder the boxer rebellion started in the outskirts of major cities because despite the Chinese Army being broken and for all intents and purposes was nonexistent the officials and elders of communities outside the big cities still existed and feared being sidelined by a new breed of usurper bureaucrats mostly Westernized Japanese educated Chinese scholars in Japan and those favored by European colonizers in their Universities. Their fear of the dangers of trade if China opened to the West came into being because this new usurper Westernized Bureaucrats have nothing to show for except worthless opium and cough money out of this and steal land, existing local crafts and bankrupt local honest businessmen and craftsmen thru the backing of Western goons who enforce their authority thru the barrel of a gun. This is the reason why China needs a strong military.
    The nationalist maintained this system for their masters because just as always the European Feudal Lords will recall their military so they can take over. The nationalist are nothing more than Yakuza’s they executed communist who did not do anything to them and because they are the reincarnation of the Opium bullies that threaten to replace tribal and community elders with Western Style Government Bureaucrats they were bound to loss because they do not have the support outside the big cities. The Communist where destined to win because the Warlords of China see them as accommodating and non-threatening. Now when you are a Warlord and is able to support an army of let’s say 5000 men, it would only mean that you have the support of local people, skilled craftsmen and honest businessmen and able to accommodate them all probably even most of the officers are officials or played a part in the running of the former Qing imperial Court. Fielding a warlord army of a few thousand men that’s one huge logistics nightmare and yet it could easily balloon to a hundred thousand men. The Chinese Communist Party’s mistake therefore was its inability to adopt the Buddhist, Taoist and Confusion age old proven Chinese Tradition into its field of operations.
    With recent advancement in weapons and communications the age of the three kingdoms is never going to happen because invading another province 1.) will never be allowed by the troops who are Confucius learned and 2.) quick communication means culprits are easily identified and thus even banditry which will eventually lead to separate Nations which the West was hoping did not occur, modern military trained army do not obey Royals who terrorize and resort to banditry because a modern army is for conquest. The only way to divide China was the very institution that held it together for millennia’s, only the Western corrupted and puppet emperor system together with conniving relatives and officials especially if they have become inbreeds can start a civil war between provinces and broken China into numerous nations.
    Self Sufficient communities look to the monks for moral and spiritual guidance and even if not selected to be a monk the relatively small time spend in the monastery is enough to last a sense of responsibility to good morals and society for the rest of one’s life. Thus the tragedy of the three kingdoms that the royals where hoping so that they can divide and rule China for themselves never happened. Most might not make it to monkhood but there is the military where you don’t need super cool Kung Fu dexterity with its shiny uniforms, guns and synchronize marching young people would come flocking to a Warlord. When dealing with young energetic men with high expectations who contribute to the cause by bringing in supplies from their homes and thus answer to no one, as a warlord and the people behind him it is not very smart to put yourself in the spot light and risk your neck exposing yourself to the wrath of this men when something goes wrong. Better blend and let the situation sort it out on its own because ones the situation stabilized the most organized people in the group being former Qing officials, elders, business and craftsmen people will always hold positions of responsibility anyway. This is why once the Western backed Nationalist where defeated the Chinese Communist Party without resistance and against impossible odds united and held together the vast Chinese Nation.
    This is why Confucianism is very important if the Western backed Nationalist won they would have used Confucianism to solidify their criminal rule but since the Chinese Communist party’s grip on power is secure it is essential to create a new system for efficiency.
    Guanxi must be the basis of the rule of law however it must be codified, the Western system of governance is far superior to the Confucius system which is based on principles and not superb regulations by super effective Western institution of commerce, taxation and governance. There is no escaping Western Style Governance whom the West knows and is arrogantly proud of it calling it Democracy, but just because they made the system it does not mean adoption of different Western Institutions that make up Government means it has to be Democratic. China will never be a Democracy the One Party System stays and just like in the Warlord Era minus the war part the Guanxi dealings with people, community, business and provinces must stay.
    China is a only Democracy because Confucius is very important in using Western Institution and its system for China world supremacy. The Royals own the West and this Feudal Lords can be very useful, aside from Chinese Influence at Davos and the UN, having a Communist Party Opposition to the Democratic Parties in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore is a must. Communist Party in Singapore for influence in South East Asia, Hong Kong to infiltrate the House of Lords, and finally Taiwan to eventually have a third party in the US Congress although not named Communist Party. This Chinese lead coalition is composed of the Arabs, Indians, Iranians, South Americans, and Russian lawmakers. Only a successful Silk road will allow this scenario to happen and it is needed because the white man cannot cheat again, a war of conquest might seem impossible but it has only been a century since the sort of thing happen and history have shown that it can occur even after a few hundred years of peace, in China and the middle east a few hundred years occur without even any war. This destruction of American monuments might be a precursor to unholy events, America has the most powerful military by far what if a few decade along the line with the success of the silk road and the undisputed rise of China as the sole military and economic power; the West will cheat and the European Feudal Lords and American industrialist, technocrats and military industrial will unite and decide that the only way to for the Western Civilization to stay on top is annex the entire of Latin America. Who’s going to stop them? No one even Midoro and the other South American leaders are not going to complain if given enough incentive. The only reason why the US is losing Wars is because it is intentionally, the Feudal tendency of Europeans to use the military and later divide it for themselves and of course money, bailout is too much work.

  3. Hello everyone,

    We need to know your opinion:
    Would you like us to publish our documentaries on Saturday mornings rather than on Sunday evenings? (European time)
    We accidentally published this documentary too early on Sunday, and it led us to wonder:
    what would you think is the ideal moment to watch our latest publications?

    Let us know, because we are trying to optimize this channel as best as possible for our public, and your opinion matters.

    Google vs China seems to passionate you all! 🙂
    Next Sunday we will publish a documentary called: People, Power, and Varoufakis.
    Yes, we will go back to Greece!

    Thank you for watching, and thank you for your contribution.

  4. Bulshit one is manipulating its people by free internet and another one is manipulating by censoring internet both are same

  5. Totally a lie… Google doesn't believe information should be free… So much so that they didn't inform the world wide base of users that all google services offered for free were being monitored by usa government. Now tell us, how does this fit in a company that "believe information should be free"?

  6. Google was hoping they’d make suckers out of the Chinese, but it backfired. Google didn’t go to China uninformed, they knew exactly what they were up against. So why did they go?

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