After &, What will Microsoft do in China?

Tuesday, 23 March, 2010

By now, you may have all heard or read about Google’s new approach to China. What we don’t know is what would other search engines in China will do?

In the editorial of one of the most widely read newspaper Apple Daily in Hong Kong “蘋論:好馬.聰明馬.草泥馬 – 李怡 – 2010年03月24日“, one sentence got my attention.

“此外,北京高官透露,中國已私下和微軟達成共識,只要微軟的搜索引擎 Bing遵守中國法律,中國將會扶持 Bing取代谷歌在中國的地位。”

Here is my English translation,

Furthermore, according to a senior Beijing government official, Chinese government has privately reached a consensus with Microsoft. As long as Microsoft’s search engine Bing abides by Chinese law, China will support Bing to replace Google in China.

If the above editorial report is correct, it shows Microsoft is willing to do anything for a few bucks. Borrowing the sentiment of the author of the Apple Daily editorial 蘋論, I want to say “草泥馬 “Grass Mud Horse”” to Microsoft.

P.S. For those that can read Chinese, I’ve reposted the full Apple Daily editorial at the bottom of this post. decision (part 2) and China’s Foreign Ministry & White House responses

Thursday, 14 January, 2010

For the record, I will list the China’s Foreign Ministry response to  David Drummond, Google Chief Legal Officer in Chinese and then English, both from Xinhua, the Chinese government officially approved, sanctioned, and mandated news source for all internal Chinese websites re the decision (yes, it is illegal to quote or use any other news sources).

From 新华国际 “2010年01月14日 (外交部网站) 姜瑜就谷歌、海地地震、印度逮捕中国工程师等答问“,

问 [Question]:中国政府对谷歌公司宣布可能退出中国市场,不再和中国政府合作对网络内容进行审查有何回应?美国国务卿希拉里·克林顿要求中国对谷歌网络被攻击作出解释,中方对此有何回应?

答 [Answer]: 我想强调的是,中国的互联网是开放的,中国政府鼓励互联网的发展,努力为互联网的健康发展营造良好的环境。中国的法律禁止任何形式的黑客攻击行为。中国同其他国家一样,依法管理互联网,有关管理措施符合国际通行做法。我还想强调,中国欢迎国际互联网企业在中国依法开展业务。


From Xinhua “China says its Web open, welcomes Int’l companies“,

China’s Internet is open and welcomes international companies, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Thursday, just two days after Google issued a statement saying it might quit China.

Spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing that China encouraged development of the Internet.

“China’s Internet is open,” said Jiang. “China has tried creating a favorable environment for Internet,” said Jiang while responding to a question on Google’s possible retreat.

“China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law,” she said. “China’s law prohibits cyber crimes including hacker attacks.”

Here is the thing, China’s constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of speech too but that hasn’t exactly done Prof. Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) any good, has it? A sentence of 11 years imprisonment right on Christmas 2009 for signing Charter 08 along a few hundred other Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists.

So the bottom line is that we will need to see what the discussion between Google and the Chinese government comes down to.

Now Google has made a strong stand, I hope Google will make the right decision to be transparent and make the right choice between “good” and “profit”.

See my decision – part 1.

P.S. What the Chinese based companies are saying now have little creditability in my eyes as the only way for them to survive is to obey the Chinese government.

In fact, I will go one step further and treat all Chinese companies’ spokespeople and senior executives as mouthpieces of the Chinese government. I will be very surprised if they suddenly decided to grow some political spine right at the time when spinelessness is the best way to stay profitable in China and be friends of the Chinese government.

P.P.S. For the record from NYT “Follow the Law, China Tells Internet Companies” (emphasis added),

After a day of silence, the Foreign Ministry said that China welcomed foreign Internet companies but that those offering online services must do so “in accordance with the law.” Speaking at a scheduled news conference, Jiang Yu, a ministry spokeswoman, did not address Google’s complaints about censorship and cyberattacks and simply stated that “China’s Internet is open.”

The remarks, and those of another high-ranking official who called for even tighter Internet restrictions, may speed Google’s departure and increase friction between Beijing and the Obama administration, which has made priorities of Internet freedom and online security.

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Google Washington DC Talks by Jeff Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do?”

Wednesday, 13 January, 2010

In light of the decision, I am watching the following Apr 2009 Google Talk by Jeff Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do?” and self-proclaimed Google fanboy, to see if I can gain some additional insights.

Interesting ideas at time codes: 21:40 and in particular at 23:38 where there is a discussion censoring results at & Google not operating in China. decision (part 1)

Wednesday, 13 January, 2010

I blogged yesterday “Google attacked and likely to exit China” and “Flowers for“. I will try to write some more when I can find some quiet time to write. In the mean time, Jeff Jarvis has an insightful post “What Google should do” on this decision. It is a great read. Here is one excerpt (with emphasis added),

I know some will say that Google wasn’t doing that well in China anyway (it controls 31% of the market); they’ll ascribe cynical motives. But I say: Name one other company that finally said “enough!” and put ethic, morals, and company standards over its lust for the Chinese market. Not Yahoo. Not Cisco. Not Nokia. Not Siemens. Not The New York Times Company. Google has.

Have a read of the Atlantic writer James Fallows’ article “The Google news: China enters its Bush-Cheney era” for some insightful analysis and discussions. After reading Jeff’s articles, I don’t know if The Economist’s “Google errs – Google’s plan to withdraw from China may be as much about poor business prospects as ethics” has much leg room to stand on. See also BBC “Chinese surprise at Google pull-out threat” (note: I am not surprised at Baidu’s responses which, in cases like this, I see as another mouthpiece for the Chinese government. Think, what can a Chinese company do? Even Google has to be clear that its Chinese employees are NOT involved in this decision!!!).

And I plan to watch Jeff’s Apr 2009 talk (YouTube) at Google’s offices in Washington later when I find some time.

Again, I will try to share more of my thoughts when I can find some quiet time to write.

Flowers for (Goolge likely to exit China)

Tuesday, 12 January, 2010

Jan 14: More from WSJ “Flowers for Google in China”.


As a result of Goolge’s decision and likely exit from China, some people decided to deliver flowers to

Flowers for

Flowers for

For the last few years, I have little respect for Google’s way of operating in China. Today, Google has regained a portion of my lost respect. It is probably to early to draw a conclusion. Lets see what happen in the next few days.

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