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1/13/2010
01:31 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google's Stand Shines Spotlight On Competitors

Google's decision to reevaluate its business operations in China may cost the company potential revenue there -- the company's stock is down following its announcement yesterday and Baidu's stock is up -- but it may be rewarded for its stand in the West.

Google's decision to reevaluate its business operations in China may cost the company potential revenue there -- the company's stock is down following its announcement yesterday and Baidu's stock is up -- but it may be rewarded for its stand in the West.By rejecting censorship and a Chinese business environment poisoned by protectionism, nationalism, and espionage, Google has tapped into a rich vein of resentment against China's economic policies and has earned accolades that could blunt calls for regulating the company in other markets.

What's more, Google's return to principled behavior -- better late than never -- highlights the unwillingness of its competitors to compete for the moral high ground.

Microsoft has not commented on Google's decision and don't expect the company to do so. What's to say? We value shareholder interests above freedom and democracy? Tyranny keeps our stock high? Some of our best customers are Communist Party censors?

Certainly businesses have to balance competing interests, but at some point, compromise without question becomes surrender. That's the situation Google faced in China. It could not continue to play on such an unfair playing field. Baidu, as a Chinese company, is the favored son. The match is fixed, for Google and for other Western companies seeking to do business in China.

The question now becomes whether other companies kowtowing to Chinese authorities believe in anything other than their bottom line.

Google employees, perhaps with the exception of a few hundred in China whose jobs might vanish, are proud of what their employer has done. Let those who believe in freedom and democracy reward the company with support and encourage greater openness and fairness for businesses in China, and for its people.



Our "A New IT Manifesto" report looks at a variety of new approaches and technologies that let IT rebels take on a whole new role, enhancing their companies' competitiveness and engaging their entire organizations more intimately with customers. Download the report here (registration required).

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