Google co-founder Sergey Brin says closing Google.cn was personal. Brin lived in the Soviet Union until the age of six and maintains that his experience with government censorship informs his company's policies today. In a direct swipe at the Chinese government he told The New York Times the country's "forces of totalitarianism" became intolerable.
It was a gutsy remark for someone who still has significant business ties to China. Ties that now appear tenuous as ever, since China began blocking Google searches Tuesday. Now commentators are focusing on the delicate dance the two entities will engage in to save face.
- This Isn't Defiance, This Is Compromise, writes Brier Dudley at The Seattle Times: "Google's bold move in China seems like a carefully negotiated compromise more than the grand statement pulling completely out of China would have been... Both sides get their way -- Google follows through on its pledge to provide uncensored search results while staying open for business in China, and China's information repression continues on the mainland."
- The Relationship Is Back to Where We Started, writes Stan Schroeder at Mashable: "It’s back to square one — for users in China, Google is still censored, just as it was before... One cannot escape the feeling that Google’s entire anti-censorship episode didn’t have much success, at least from the perspective of Internet users in China."
- And Business Losses Will Be Significant, writes Vadislav Savov at Engadget: "It's expected the Chinese government's influence will also result in China Mobile canceling a deal to have Google as its default search provider on mobile handsets."
- Google's Chinese Evil Meter Will Embarrass the Gov't, writes Ian Paul at PC World: "In what may be one of the most brilliant moves to shine a light on Chinese censorship, Google has created a Web page, called 'Mainland China service availability' where anyone in the world can see all the Google services blocked by the Chinese government on any given day. Google's so-called Evil Meter, a title coined by Wired's Steven Levy, is clearly intended to shine a light on the level of censorship and information filtering going on in the Communist country."
- This Is Gonna Get Ugly, predicts Doug Hanchard at ZDNet: "As Google continues into unknown territory, it will face pressure to adhere to Chinese law (right now) or leave completely - including Hong Kong. There’s no faster way to anger the Chinese leadership than continuing to argue in public why Google believes its policies are in the public interests. The marriage didn’t last long. Even the prenuptial is being torn up. This is going to be an ugly and very celebrity style public divorce."