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Putting principle before profit

Nearly two weeks ago, Google Inc. successfully shut down its search engine in China after declaring in January it would not comply with Chinese censorship.

China recently tightened its grip on the world of online information by forcing Google, the leader in providing information, to choose between giving in to Chinese censorship and leaving the world’s largest group of Internet users to the rivals.

Google deserves the utmost respect from the world for taking the risk of dropping a profitable consumer for the sake of upholding the right to free speech.

The end of Google’s four-year plan – an attempt to place Western free-speech norms – was unsuccessful but its public exit proves to the rest of the world it does not make exceptions for anyone, including its most prominent clients. Most large corporations would not deny a client due to a difference in opinion, as long as the client produces a profit in the end.

Censorship is not new to China. The government has always tightened supervision of the Chinese Web, and the restrictions have not inhibited its economic growth.

After ceasing the abilities to use the China search domain, Google began redirecting Chinese users to the Hong Kong-based Web site, allowing users to search limitlessly, which may later cause controversy among the nation.

China does not disclose to its own people that it censors the Internet to hide a variety of social and political topics that the government believes could lead to instability. For example, Tibetan mastiffs were banned by the Communist Party as bourgeois, but are now the “hot dog” to spread one’s wealth.

Its 350 million Internet users are certain they have the same vast access to information that the rest of the world enjoys. Google publicly challenged the stance in January and reinforced its opposition by pulling the plug after failed talks with the government.

Now due to Google’s redirection to the Hong Kong Web site, Chinese users may find their once-thought infinite searching has now been expanded. Enjoy it while it lasts, China.

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