Why Google will stay in China, despite “evilness”

Ahh, I see over on TechMeme that Google’s founders say that being in China hurt its image.

So, why won’t Google just leave China and improve its image?

Easy: there are too many smart engineers coming out of Chinese Universities. Leave China and you not only leave a market with more than a billion people in it, but you leave all those smart people to join other companies who haven’t taken an oath to “do no evil.”

When I worked at Microsoft the most amazing software was being done in China (face detection, speech recognition, and video search, just to name three, are being worked on in China, and those are among the hardest things to build).

Why should we care about the quality of our educational systems here in America?

This is precisely why.

I personally support Google and other companies (a bunch of Silicon Valley companies are there, and have been there for years) being in China.

I was in China several years ago and realize that most Americans really have no clue about what’s going on over there. I sure didn’t, before visiting.

I want to visit China again to cover this ongoing story.

105 thoughts on “Why Google will stay in China, despite “evilness”

  1. Robert,

    On not including last names: Some people value their privacy. I surf through a proxy server out of Spain, even though I’m in the western US. I value my privacy. I say things on some sites that are not popular with certain people, including people that are elected. I have a right to that privacy.

    Even in the US, we have no real freedom of speech in the truest sense. If you differ too much with the American political norms, you are considered a threat, even though you may not even be harmful.

  2. And p.s.. please tell me where i said “america’s govt is perfect” while youre looking for that other stuff.

  3. Reading the comments above there seems to be a feeling I don’t know just how repressive the Chinese government is. I know the repression well and have studied it close up. Just because I’m not communicating that side of it here doesn’t mean I’m not up to date on how they treat Falon followers, among others their government doesn’t like.

  4. And p.s.. please tell me where i said “america’s govt is perfect” while youre looking for that other stuff.

  5. Reading the comments above there seems to be a feeling I don’t know just how repressive the Chinese government is. I know the repression well and have studied it close up. Just because I’m not communicating that side of it here doesn’t mean I’m not up to date on how they treat Falon followers, among others their government doesn’t like.

  6. Ann: our government is far from perfect too. Want to visit George Bush’s prisons? Want to visit the kid who got a blow job and 10 years in prison in Georgia?

    The students were fairly open with me. My wife grew up in Iran. Kids in repressive states generally find ways to get across what they want without feeling the consequences of their speech.

  7. Ann: our government is far from perfect too. Want to visit George Bush’s prisons? Want to visit the kid who got a blow job and 10 years in prison in Georgia?

    The students were fairly open with me. My wife grew up in Iran. Kids in repressive states generally find ways to get across what they want without feeling the consequences of their speech.

  8. Peter,

    I cannot in good faith agree with you on Socialism. Scandinavia has a spiraling moral problem in that people do not marry in great numbers any longer.

    A society that loses the family as its moral compass is a society that is dying. Scandinavia has one of the highest rates of govt sponsored childhood – meaning, the govt takes care of the kids, not the parents.

    Any country that allows the cradle to grave govt control, like Scandinavia, is not a free society either. It’s not as corrupt as communism, but its never the answer either.

    Trade with Cuba and China are of two different ilks really. Cuba has been more of a threat in the past, while China has a nuclear threat that we agree to.

    Politics has sure screwed up relations, but that is where we are today; we have zero relations with Castro (but just watch the party when he’s dead!) and we have had good on going relations with China since Nixon opened that door ( and who gets scarce credit for it).

  9. Peter,

    I cannot in good faith agree with you on Socialism. Scandinavia has a spiraling moral problem in that people do not marry in great numbers any longer.

    A society that loses the family as its moral compass is a society that is dying. Scandinavia has one of the highest rates of govt sponsored childhood – meaning, the govt takes care of the kids, not the parents.

    Any country that allows the cradle to grave govt control, like Scandinavia, is not a free society either. It’s not as corrupt as communism, but its never the answer either.

    Trade with Cuba and China are of two different ilks really. Cuba has been more of a threat in the past, while China has a nuclear threat that we agree to.

    Politics has sure screwed up relations, but that is where we are today; we have zero relations with Castro (but just watch the party when he’s dead!) and we have had good on going relations with China since Nixon opened that door ( and who gets scarce credit for it).

  10. Robert,

    Some of us do not live or die by our internet persona. This isnt about me; its about your cheerleading of an immoral, repressive govt that doesnt allow their people to speak their own mind.

    Maybe a few students did speak to you, but they did so under great trepidation, I can assure you.

  11. Robert,

    Some of us do not live or die by our internet persona. This isnt about me; its about your cheerleading of an immoral, repressive govt that doesnt allow their people to speak their own mind.

    Maybe a few students did speak to you, but they did so under great trepidation, I can assure you.

  12. Ann: actually, I asked students in a bar in Shanghai what they thought about that and Tiananmen Square. I didn’t get run out of town.

    Interesting, though, that you aren’t even willing to put your entire name here. Why not? You live in America, right? What have you got to lose?

  13. Ann,

    I agree with you that big business helps our economy. I’m in disagreement, however, that we should let it (BB) dictate to the US government, which it readily does.

    You are right about Robert needing a wake-up call in regards to China. He should get a ticket to China, take his laptop, go to an Internet cafe, and start blogging about religion — specifically Falun Gong. He’d be snatched up by the Chinese secret police like a tornado, American or not — all in the name of keeping the state “safe”. Safe from what? A differing opinion? Ideal? Methodology? Way of life?

    The Chinese government is oppressive. Full stop. They are holding onto the ideals of “communism” while attempting to be western in their business dealings. It will not work in the end.

    Socialism, however, works if done correctly, something like Scandinavia. High taxes are fine if the payee gets a return on investment, i.e. medicine without additional costs, education through the BA/BS level, subsidized child care, and up to 60% of your retirement money tax free. It works fine if done that way.

    Oppressive governments should be shunned by American companies.

    I love this little statement:

    Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is
    communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

  14. Ann,

    I agree with you that big business helps our economy. I’m in disagreement, however, that we should let it (BB) dictate to the US government, which it readily does.

    You are right about Robert needing a wake-up call in regards to China. He should get a ticket to China, take his laptop, go to an Internet cafe, and start blogging about religion — specifically Falun Gong. He’d be snatched up by the Chinese secret police like a tornado, American or not — all in the name of keeping the state “safe”. Safe from what? A differing opinion? Ideal? Methodology? Way of life?

    The Chinese government is oppressive. Full stop. They are holding onto the ideals of “communism” while attempting to be western in their business dealings. It will not work in the end.

    Socialism, however, works if done correctly, something like Scandinavia. High taxes are fine if the payee gets a return on investment, i.e. medicine without additional costs, education through the BA/BS level, subsidized child care, and up to 60% of your retirement money tax free. It works fine if done that way.

    Oppressive governments should be shunned by American companies.

    I love this little statement:

    Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is
    communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

  15. Ann: actually, I asked students in a bar in Shanghai what they thought about that and Tiananmen Square. I didn’t get run out of town.

    Interesting, though, that you aren’t even willing to put your entire name here. Why not? You live in America, right? What have you got to lose?

  16. Peter,

    Big business is the crazy reason why we will never speak Chinese in this country. If it werent for our businesses buying up all of Chinas’s massed produced crap – their economy would tailspin.

    I agree with you that Google made a bottom line decision that leaves most Americans thinking, “ick, that was a stupid reason to stay in China.”

    I wish Robert could go to China and ask people on the street what religion they are – he’d vanish off the face of the planet in a nanosecond.

  17. Peter,

    Big business is the crazy reason why we will never speak Chinese in this country. If it werent for our businesses buying up all of Chinas’s massed produced crap – their economy would tailspin.

    I agree with you that Google made a bottom line decision that leaves most Americans thinking, “ick, that was a stupid reason to stay in China.”

    I wish Robert could go to China and ask people on the street what religion they are – he’d vanish off the face of the planet in a nanosecond.

  18. @14,

    Thank you, Ann. Some rational thought in here, finally.

    Robert, not only are you left, you are pro big business. That’s an unlikely combination.

    You carpet support for big business is a little much. I am NOT pro big business and never will be.

    We will NOT end up speaking Chinese. Full stop. If Americans cannot and will not get into university and study, it’s their own fault, not that of some other country. India and China both put copious amounts of people through university, but it means nothing. Most of them end up leaving their fields and going back to the farms because they cannot get work in their chosen career fields.

    One of the US’s problems is that we allow too many people in. We should cut it to about a quarter of what it is now. I’m not a racist, anti-immigration, or anything else like that. I’m a realist and a pragmatist with morals who is concerned that the economy of this country is starting to be controlled a little too much by big business.

    Google, if they had morals in response to the Chinese government’s request, should have been to say that we cannot and will not assist with anything anti-free speech. The whole purpose of a search engine is to find information. If a search engine company does ANYTHING — ANYTHING AT ALL to stymie that, they have no clue about the value of the human condition of freedom. Google, if anything, should pull out of China, and assist with helping the Chinese people overcome the great Chinese firewall that BLOCKS free access to information.

    Everyone has a right to free speech regardless of what their respective governments decree. To support a company that agrees with such governments is anathema. Period.

    Money is not a reason to contine to do business with immoral governments. Money is the root of mankind DOING EVIL. Period. Full stop.

  19. @14,

    Thank you, Ann. Some rational thought in here, finally.

    Robert, not only are you left, you are pro big business. That’s an unlikely combination.

    You carpet support for big business is a little much. I am NOT pro big business and never will be.

    We will NOT end up speaking Chinese. Full stop. If Americans cannot and will not get into university and study, it’s their own fault, not that of some other country. India and China both put copious amounts of people through university, but it means nothing. Most of them end up leaving their fields and going back to the farms because they cannot get work in their chosen career fields.

    One of the US’s problems is that we allow too many people in. We should cut it to about a quarter of what it is now. I’m not a racist, anti-immigration, or anything else like that. I’m a realist and a pragmatist with morals who is concerned that the economy of this country is starting to be controlled a little too much by big business.

    Google, if they had morals in response to the Chinese government’s request, should have been to say that we cannot and will not assist with anything anti-free speech. The whole purpose of a search engine is to find information. If a search engine company does ANYTHING — ANYTHING AT ALL to stymie that, they have no clue about the value of the human condition of freedom. Google, if anything, should pull out of China, and assist with helping the Chinese people overcome the great Chinese firewall that BLOCKS free access to information.

    Everyone has a right to free speech regardless of what their respective governments decree. To support a company that agrees with such governments is anathema. Period.

    Money is not a reason to contine to do business with immoral governments. Money is the root of mankind DOING EVIL. Period. Full stop.

  20. Robert,

    You are saying that a kid in Georgia is ‘locked up because he got a blow job’ ..? Do you understand that he was of adult age and the girl was underage?

    I do think the sentence was extreme, but the law is the law and unless you lefties want absolutely no laws regarding underage sex offenses (which many lefties are already pushing for) where does society draw the line?

    China is a whole other animal, not even in the same league as the red herrings youre trying to throw out in this discussion.

    Ask all of the free people in Iraq who just had their first free vote how that feels. Ask the people in Afghanistan how voting freely feels.

    Ask the Chinese…………. woops! You cant. They live under severe threat of the end of their life over there for even having a free thought, freedom of religion or seeing real events that happened in their own country online.

    And you support this? Sheesh.

  21. Robert,

    You are saying that a kid in Georgia is ‘locked up because he got a blow job’ ..? Do you understand that he was of adult age and the girl was underage?

    I do think the sentence was extreme, but the law is the law and unless you lefties want absolutely no laws regarding underage sex offenses (which many lefties are already pushing for) where does society draw the line?

    China is a whole other animal, not even in the same league as the red herrings youre trying to throw out in this discussion.

    Ask all of the free people in Iraq who just had their first free vote how that feels. Ask the people in Afghanistan how voting freely feels.

    Ask the Chinese…………. woops! You cant. They live under severe threat of the end of their life over there for even having a free thought, freedom of religion or seeing real events that happened in their own country online.

    And you support this? Sheesh.

  22. Has any study been done on the significance of the contributions of Chinese engineers vs. other countries?

  23. Has any study been done on the significance of the contributions of Chinese engineers vs. other countries?

  24. There seems to be some misunderstandings. Hopefully, these answers clarify a bit:

    1. No, I do not think that way about relocating at all. I just see that as an option for someone who’s willing to move abroad.

    2-3. Nope, I’m not a manager.

    4. I’ve moved several times with my family. But only very locally, i.e. 10 kms north, 8 kms east, 7 kms north-east etc.

  25. There seems to be some misunderstandings. Hopefully, these answers clarify a bit:

    1. No, I do not think that way about relocating at all. I just see that as an option for someone who’s willing to move abroad.

    2-3. Nope, I’m not a manager.

    4. I’ve moved several times with my family. But only very locally, i.e. 10 kms north, 8 kms east, 7 kms north-east etc.

  26. Tomi: you think you can “relocate” engineers out of their home country? You’re deluded. Are you a manager? Is this how you approach management problems?

    You ever move your family? I have. I can’t imagine leaving the country I live in. Not to mention that the government over there would never allow that to happen.

  27. Tomi: you think you can “relocate” engineers out of their home country? You’re deluded. Are you a manager? Is this how you approach management problems?

    You ever move your family? I have. I can’t imagine leaving the country I live in. Not to mention that the government over there would never allow that to happen.

  28. Well, I can’t really see that the smart engineers are the dominant factor here.

    Google can always have a research and development unit in China and utilize Chinese engineers there, or relocate them. Even if they left the China market.

  29. Well, I can’t really see that the smart engineers are the dominant factor here.

    Google can always have a research and development unit in China and utilize Chinese engineers there, or relocate them. Even if they left the China market.

  30. Tomi and Jeremiah: yeah, the China market is massive, but it’s the engineers there that are really worrying for these companies. Why? Imagine if Google left the China market. That’s bad enough. But they’d also have to leave their Chinese employees to Yahoo and Microsoft. Those two companies then could use them to create an even better search engine that’d kill Google at home, too.

    Remember, Google isn’t a dominant search engine in China. Baidu is.

  31. Tomi and Jeremiah: yeah, the China market is massive, but it’s the engineers there that are really worrying for these companies. Why? Imagine if Google left the China market. That’s bad enough. But they’d also have to leave their Chinese employees to Yahoo and Microsoft. Those two companies then could use them to create an even better search engine that’d kill Google at home, too.

    Remember, Google isn’t a dominant search engine in China. Baidu is.

  32. IMO, reasons for Google being in China are more about advertising money and getting foothold in the fast growing economy, than about smart engineers. Google is in an eyeball business – China got the balls. ;)

  33. IMO, reasons for Google being in China are more about advertising money and getting foothold in the fast growing economy, than about smart engineers. Google is in an eyeball business – China got the balls. ;)

  34. Peter: now imagine you live in Iraq. Search and replace what you just said about “Chinese” and put in “American.”

    We’ve had plenty of atrocities in our VERY SHORT (when compared to the Chinese) history too. Even today we have people locked up without going through any due process. There’s a teenager who’s locked up in Georgia for getting a damn blow job. And you’re throwing rocks at China? Let’s take care of our problems at home and fix our educational system so that the world’s best engineers come out of our schools instead of coming out of China’s. That’s the single best thing you can do to make sure my son’s kids don’t have to learn to speak Chinese.

    >>No evil according to what set of morals?

    Larry and Sergey’s.

  35. Peter: now imagine you live in Iraq. Search and replace what you just said about “Chinese” and put in “American.”

    We’ve had plenty of atrocities in our VERY SHORT (when compared to the Chinese) history too. Even today we have people locked up without going through any due process. There’s a teenager who’s locked up in Georgia for getting a damn blow job. And you’re throwing rocks at China? Let’s take care of our problems at home and fix our educational system so that the world’s best engineers come out of our schools instead of coming out of China’s. That’s the single best thing you can do to make sure my son’s kids don’t have to learn to speak Chinese.

    >>No evil according to what set of morals?

    Larry and Sergey’s.

  36. Robert,

    I am complete disagreement with you.

    You stated that there are Chinese students coming out of universities that may go work for other companies that have sworn to do no evil…

    OK. Google stating that it will do no evil is very objective and very subjective. No evil according to what set of morals?

    When both Google and Yahoo assisted the draconian Chinese government in having people arrested for doing nothing more than stating their minds WAS evil. If anything, freedom of speech cannot be legislated. Even if those people live in a country where the law goes against such actions, assisting in keeping that law is IMMORAL. What makes it even more evil is that both companies would rather cooperate with the Chinese government to keep their revenue streams intact that take a chance and help real people in need.

    I for one am in complete agreement with the free/open source/libre software crowd that is developing software to assist disenfranchied people in China beat the Chinese “firewall”. People have a right to state their opinions, even if they disagree with those of the government. Any attempt to assist with negating this is EVIL. Full stop.

    Making money should never take precedence of basic human deceny, even if it’s but one person at stake over billions.

    If the US ever becomes like China, I’ll vote with my feet and get out, either legally or illegally. I have not used Google since they did what they did. Likewise I’m not a fan of Yahoo. I use other search engines that do not derive their results from either of those engines.

    Yes, I’m ideological, but I have to be because human freedom is more important than money. Full stop. To ever agree to anything else make people evil. Full stop. There are no degrees of basic morality here.

    The Chinese government has no right to do what they are doing, and anyone who thinks otherwise should go live under that system as a blogger and see what happens.

  37. Robert,

    I am complete disagreement with you.

    You stated that there are Chinese students coming out of universities that may go work for other companies that have sworn to do no evil…

    OK. Google stating that it will do no evil is very objective and very subjective. No evil according to what set of morals?

    When both Google and Yahoo assisted the draconian Chinese government in having people arrested for doing nothing more than stating their minds WAS evil. If anything, freedom of speech cannot be legislated. Even if those people live in a country where the law goes against such actions, assisting in keeping that law is IMMORAL. What makes it even more evil is that both companies would rather cooperate with the Chinese government to keep their revenue streams intact that take a chance and help real people in need.

    I for one am in complete agreement with the free/open source/libre software crowd that is developing software to assist disenfranchied people in China beat the Chinese “firewall”. People have a right to state their opinions, even if they disagree with those of the government. Any attempt to assist with negating this is EVIL. Full stop.

    Making money should never take precedence of basic human deceny, even if it’s but one person at stake over billions.

    If the US ever becomes like China, I’ll vote with my feet and get out, either legally or illegally. I have not used Google since they did what they did. Likewise I’m not a fan of Yahoo. I use other search engines that do not derive their results from either of those engines.

    Yes, I’m ideological, but I have to be because human freedom is more important than money. Full stop. To ever agree to anything else make people evil. Full stop. There are no degrees of basic morality here.

    The Chinese government has no right to do what they are doing, and anyone who thinks otherwise should go live under that system as a blogger and see what happens.

  38. You should read “Will the Boat Sink the Water”, which was written by 2 Chinese journalists in the 90′s, when things were a bit more open there.

    I figure China is going to go one of two ways:

    – They could see “positive” unrest (as happened in South Korea and Taiwan), and end up with a stable, representative government on the other side

    – They could collapse into internecine fighting if that doesn’t work out.

    They are starting to see the kinds of labor unrest the West had during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the industrial revolution got going. How they handle that unrest is going to be a big story over the next 20 years or so.

  39. You should read “Will the Boat Sink the Water”, which was written by 2 Chinese journalists in the 90′s, when things were a bit more open there.

    I figure China is going to go one of two ways:

    – They could see “positive” unrest (as happened in South Korea and Taiwan), and end up with a stable, representative government on the other side

    – They could collapse into internecine fighting if that doesn’t work out.

    They are starting to see the kinds of labor unrest the West had during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the industrial revolution got going. How they handle that unrest is going to be a big story over the next 20 years or so.

  40. They are not leaving. It’s about the money, and with 1 billion plus – there is a ton of it to go into Google’s pockets. Call it evil, call it what you like, I totally agree with your assessment. Yup, even blogged it late last night already. It was a nice PR move by Google. :)

    Rex

  41. They are not leaving. It’s about the money, and with 1 billion plus – there is a ton of it to go into Google’s pockets. Call it evil, call it what you like, I totally agree with your assessment. Yup, even blogged it late last night already. It was a nice PR move by Google. :)

    Rex

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