Google’s exit in China could be costly in the future

In a shocking decision last
week, cyber search engine giant
Google threatened to stop offering
its services to China. For
many people, this conflict signifies
a troubling development for the
freedoms of the Internet.

Google cites a number of reasons
for this decision, including
alleged cyber attacks against itself,
its customers and its clients.
Google indirectly accused Beijing
of having targeted the e-mail accounts
of human rights activists in
China as well as the accounts of
about 20 large businesses
including Google itself.

In a press release on Jan. 12,
a Google representative said, “We
detected a highly sophisticated and
targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure
originating from China
that resulted in the left of intellectual

And the company, which
agreed to censor search results
when it launched in China in 2006,
is also claiming that it now wants
to adhere to an open Internet policy.

China’s response to this has
been that all companies are welcome
as long as their activities are
“according to law,” clearly signaling
little chance of the Chinese
government compromising on its
censorship policy.

But what is the real intent behind
Google’s move to stop all
activity in China? And is Google
making the best decision?
China has a fast-growing economy
and is home to about 350 million
Internet users, making it an important
market from a strategic and
fi nancial perspective.

But the country has a long history
of unabashedly pilfering cyber
information and knowledge from
other companies and countries.

For example, a California-based software company called Cybersitter filed a lawsuit against China for $2.2 million two weeks ago for stealing the computer code for use
in a state-run program. After this lawsuit was filed, the law firm’s accounts
were apparently attacked by Chinese hackers.

The point is, China has a voracious
and bold appetite for any
scrap of information, code, or algorithm
that makes it stronger.

Perhaps Google is choosing to pull
out of China to protect Google’s
algorithms and programs that
make it a cyber giant and not just
to protect its clients. It is quite
possible Google wants to protect
its “family secrets” of codes that
give it the edge over other
search engines.

Another point to note is that in
China, Google has only 30 percent
of the market share as opposed to
the 60 percent held by Baidu, its rival
competitor that is favored over
Google by the Chinese government.

The chief architect of Baidu
claims this to be a fi nancial move
by Google and not a customer-protection
driven decision.

Whatever Google’s true motives
may be, it may not have been
the smartest move for Google
to cease ties with China.

Google has a significant market share in the world and a decent share in China. China is a lucrative market and some form of commercial cyber U.S. presence in China’s domain is necessary.

Furthermore, if Google pulls out of China, then Baidu will have a free hand to come up with better algorithms and programming
that could later override Google’s dominance in general.

From all the cyber attacks, it is clear China is willing to do anything conducive to its economic and technological prowess
and world standing.

If Google remains in China, it will at least be possible to keep an eye on the activities of the rival cyber giants while taking
advantage of a profi table market.

In the end, Google may have legitimate reasons for its complaints about the Chinese government, but pulling out of the country may not help anything in the long run.

It would be best if Google negotiates with the government and came to a compromise.

China has too much financial and political allure to risk a cessation of operations in
the country.