Beijing, Jan.18 -- Amid the controversy stirred by the search engine's threat to pull out of China, Google CEO Eric Schmidt was quoted Friday as admitting that a possible exit was "not a business decision" and as saying, "We love China and Chinese people. This is not about them. It's about our unwillingness to participate in censorship."
While Google's declared love for Chinese people may not be questioned, the search engine giant should respect Chinese public opinion, which is opposed to a business issue being politicized.
Clearly, Chinese users are divided on the Google issue. While some expressed their support for Google, as evident in the bouquets sent by about 30 Chinese students to the company's headquarters in Beijing, the remaining majority held that Google's withdrawal would not make a big dent in the booming search engine market, and that a business decision, at all times, should be dealt with for business implications.
The results of huanqiu.com's online polls available till Sunday evening show that more than 40 percent of the respondents are opposed to what Google has done recently, with only about 20 percent in favor.
And as for Google's unwillingness to submit to censorship, it may be pointed out that Google came to China in 2006 when China had a much stricter regulation than it has now. Both Chinese Internet users and Google, too, know this very well.
The world's top search engine needs to reflect on why it is lagging behind a local rival in China and why it is not getting as much support from Chinese Web users as it had expected.
Doubtless, it is the "digital diplomacy" involved that has further pulled down Google's popularity among Chinese. The Obama administration, with its close ties to Google, has purposely raised its pitch and assertively projected the issue at a diplomatic level. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's scheduled speech on Internet freedom tomorrow has made the Google issue even more political.
Technology and business should not be affected by political interests and diplomatic concerns. Though Chinese people have called for further steps to be taken by the government to ensure free flow of information, it is always in their interest to have any foreign company operating in China abide by Chinese laws. Certainly, Google cannot be an exception.
A split between Google and China will hurt both sides. And the Internet giant would lose further ground among its supporters if it is made a political football.
Conciliatory negotiation may help in solving any issue. The West's arrogance will not work.
(Source: Global Times)