Google’s big talk on pulling out of China appears to be in “perpetual beta,” as AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski jokes. According to his report, the Chinese government both confirms and denies that they are currently in talks with Google over Internet control/censorship.
China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Vice Minister Miao Wei of told Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, “[Google] never informed the ministry that it was planning to withdraw from China, [nor has it] filed reports over alleged Internet regulation and cyberattacks to the ministry or requests for negotiations.”
And, as AllThingsD points out, that’s especially interesting considering the day before, MIIT Minister Li Yizhong (ie Miao’s boss) told Reuters they are in negotiations with Google. AllThingsD’s sources say that both are right—Google’s in unofficial, informal talks, but hasn’t made a move to file the necessary paperwork.
Surprise, surprise, given what we’ve seen thus far.
Google’s initial promises of action were predicated on the principle that the Internet is a primary source of freedom of expression, and the Chinese government had finally gone to far in its efforts to censor how (and who) used the Internet. However, those attitudes may be uniquely American, according to data from a BBC Worldwide poll.
87% of the Chinese surveyed (vs. 78% worldwide) felt that Internet access was a “fundamental right”. (Nearly half the nearly 28,000 respondents to the survey were not Internet users.) Only 35% of the Chinese felt they could cope without the Internet (compared to 55% worldwide).
Meanwhile, 78% of those surveyed worldwide felt the Internet gave them more freedom, though only 48% felt safe in expressing opinions online, similar to the 42% of the Chinese who agreed with that statement. The PDF of the data states that “Although they are less likely to agree that the Internet should never be regulated by the government (40%), Chinese respondents are much more likely than those elsewhere to cite state censorship as their main concern related to the internet (29%).”
On some level, many of the Chinese do support the government’s censorship/control/regulation (or were afraid to say otherwise over the phone).
What do you think? Will Google pull out of China if pressed, or is this all a lot of hot air?