Posts Tagged ‘Baidu’

Google Accuses China of Violating W.T.O. Rules on Internet Access

By Kee

Flickr Creative Commons | Beijing Patrol

By Keith Bradsher | New York Times | November 16, 2010

HONG KONG — Google has released a policy paper contending that China violates its World Trade Organization commitments by limiting Chinese Internet users’ access to information providers outside China. The assertion, which was published online Monday but went largely unnoticed until bloggers started writing about it Tuesday, is the latest sign of Google’s ever greater willingness to confront censorship in China.

“Invocation of W.T.O. rules suggests that Google is fed up, and willing to play hardball,” said James Seymour, a specialist in Chinese politics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  

Bob Boorstin, Google’s public policy director, made the free-trade link forcefully in a posting on Google’s public policy blog, although he stopped short of mentioning China specifically.“It’s pretty wonky stuff,” he wrote in a statement posted on the blog with a link to the paper, “but the premise is simple: In addition to infringing human rights, governments that block the free flow of information on the Internet are also blocking trade and economic growth.”Mr. Boorstin went on to call for Western officials to challenge trade barriers to information. “In the paper we’re releasing today, we urge policy makers in the United States, European Union and elsewhere to take steps to break down barriers to free trade and Internet commerce,” Mr. Boorstin wrote.The policy paper said that more than 40 governments around the world now restrict freedom of information on the Internet — which it said was more than a 10-fold increase in the last decade of governments with such restrictions. Many of the examples of restrictions came from Google’s experience in China.Until January, accommodating China’s policy, Google censored search results delivered to computers in China. Stepping back from that approach, the company in March curtailed its operations in China and began directing Internet users there to its site in Hong Kong. A former British colony, Hong Kong maintains freedom of speech and other individual liberties despite its return to Chinese sovereignty in 1997.Since March, Google has continued to lobby Beijing, with little success, for unfettered access to the Chinese market.Even before it pulled out of the mainland, Google was losing market share to a Chinese rival, Baidu. And it has lost further market share since then. The latest industry estimates suggest that Google, which before March had about one-third of the mainland market for Internet searches, now has only about one-fifth, with Baidu having the rest.Kaiser Kuo, the director of international communications for Baidu, said that it was wrong to suggest that China’s controls on the Internet were unfairly helping his company.“Google no longer incurs the costs of censorship that we continue to incur; those costs include not only hardware, software and manpower but most importantly the time of our very senior managers,” Mr. Kuo said. “We should not labor under the illusion that censorship is some sort of competitive advantage to Baidu.”Google’s public policy paper emphasized that when the W.T.O. was created in 1995, international free trade rules were broadened in many ways to cover services like Internet search providers. But Chinese officials have consistently said that their commercial policies comply fully with all W.T. O. rules.Google joins a growing chorus of critics of China on trade grounds. The Obama administration opened a broad investigation last month of whether China had violated W.T.O. rules by reportedly subsidizing exports of solar panels, wind turbines and other clean energy products.

Keith Bradsher reported from Hong Kong and Sharon LaFraniere reported from Beijing.

China Renews Google’s License

By Tsering

Flickr Creative Commons | Craig Maccubbin

By David Barboza | The New York Times | July 9, 2010

SHANGHAI — The Internet giant Google said Friday that the Beijing government had renewed its license to operate a Web site in mainland China, ending months of tension after the company stopped censoring search results here and moved some operations out of the country.

Google made the announcement early Friday morning in California in a blog posting by its chief legal officer, David Drummond.

“We are very pleased that the government has renewed our I.C.P. license,” Mr. Drummond wrote referring to an Internet content provider license. “And we look forward to continuing to provide Web search and local products to our users in China.”

Google’s chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, said Friday that the renewal “was the outcome we were hoping for.”

Mr. Schmidt, who told reporters on Thursday that the company expected to obtain the renewal, said that he did not know China’s decision would come so soon and was informed of the decision early Friday. He had expected the decision to come down within 24 to 48 hours.

“We’ll keep doing what we’re doing, and they’ll keep doing what they’re doing,” he said Friday at the Allen & Company media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho.

If the license had not been renewed, Google would have effectively been forced to shut down its Web site, google.cn, in China. With the renewal, however, Google can continue offering limited services in China and direct users to the company’s uncensored Hong Kong-based Chinese language search engine, google.com.hk. Hong Kong, a former British colony that is now a special administrative region of China, is governed separately from the mainland. Under the current setup in mainland China, users can conduct a Google search and see the results, but often they cannot open the links.

The license renewal is a sign that Google, while uncomfortable with operating in China and censoring its search results on Beijing’s behalf, is determined to keep a foot in China, which now has more Internet users than the United States.

Google announced in January that it had suffered China-based cyberattacks on its databases and the e-mail accounts of some users. The company said it would also stop censoring search results, which it had agreed to do when it first began to operate in China several years ago. The Chinese government insists that its citizens’ access to the Internet be stripped of offensive and some politically sensitive material.

In March, Google closed its Internet search service in China and began directing users to the uncensored Hong Kong site.

Many analysts were stunned by the moves and questioned whether Google was acting prudently in risking its spot in the world’s largest Internet market.

Just a few weeks ago, however, Google signaled a softer approach to Beijing by saying that it had stopped automatically sending users in mainland China to its Hong Kong site. The company said it had created a Web page that offered users in mainland China a choice, rather than automatically directing them to its Hong Kong site.

The move, though seemingly insignificant, seemed to comply better with Beijing’s strict regulations.

“This approach ensures we stay true to our commitment not to censor our results on google.cn and gives users access to all of our services from one page,” Mr. Drummond wrote at the time.

Renewal is required annually for Google’s license, which officially expires in 2012.

“This is a reasonable move by the government,” Jake Li, an Internet analyst at Guotai Junan Securities in Shenzhen, told Bloomberg News. “Google has brought itself into compliance with regulations, so there’s no good reason to deny them the license.”

Even before the censorship issue came to the fore, Google was struggling in China to attain the same market dominance it has achieved in many other countries.

The hottest Internet companies in China are those like Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba — fast-growing local companies that are making huge profits.

Google is not the only American giant that has had trouble in China. Yahoo and eBay have failed to gain significant traction here. And Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked by the government.

RSS Open Net Initiative

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