Discussion: On January 27, 2006, Google.cn went live in China, and within a few months, Google China’s headquarters was outfitted with the usual frills: foosball tables, a fully equipped gym, massage room, a huge cafeteria with free meals. But signs of a distressed relationship soon followed: unexplained outages, Google’s operating license was suddenly no longer valid, and in 2008, Chinese authorities demanded censorship of objectionable links from the Chinese-language version of Google.com. As the demands for censorship mounted and Google stalled, a sophisticated hack into Google’s system dug into the Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents and human rights activists. This was too much for Google execs in Mountain View, CA, and on January 10, 2010, Google pulled the plug in China.
Date: April 15, 2011
Questions for discussion:
- Do you think Google execs made the right choice to retreat from China or should they have continued to cooperate with the Chinese authorities?
- What trend does Kai-Fu Lee see as the long-term solution to a more open China?
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