A few weeks back I asked what was going on with Google’s pledge to stop helping the Chinese government censor search results for sensitive topics like Falun Gong and Tiananmen Square. Google was presumably using its threat of withdrawal from the Chinese market as a negotiating chip to wrest privileged status from the Chinese authorities.
But the hope was naive. It was unlikely in the extreme that China would give up its program of censoring mainland culture and especially politics. It wants to control the dialogue and thwart political dissent. So I told Google, “Google, ya gotta go. Stop enabling Chinese censorship. Do as you promised and provide a desperately needed and inspiring example of refusing any longer to cooperate with tyranny.”
I feared Google would retreat from its public commitment. But now Google agrees that for the Chinese government, “self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement.” So Google is redirecting Chinese users of its search engine (Google.cn) to its Hong Kong search engine (Google.com.hk), where results are not currently censored because of the “one country, two systems” policy that has been at least roughly followed since China took over Hong Kong in 1997.
Whether citizens on the mainland will be able to get uncensored search results from the Hong Kong Google search engine is an open question at best. But any censorship of those results will now be perpetrated by China without Google’s active cooperation. Good for Google.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.