Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Publicado por PacEth: Applied Anthropology Just About Everywhere
As usual, things are more complicated than our USA news reporters would have us believe. True enough, Google has not done enough to make itself relevant in China. But for many Chinese people, particularly graduate students and people in Tech, Google has offered things that others either don't do or don't do well. Like their translation service, for example.
Yesterday, flowers were laid on the Google sign at Google's Beijing offices. Here in Hai Dian, a neighborhood through which all of us part-time Beijingren have visited many times on trips to Universities or to shop for electronics in the big IT shopping centers, Google is being memorialized. Gao Ming, a very well known Mainland video blogger, documented some of the reactions on his youku video-page.
Flowers. A cup. Chocolates. Looks just like traditional offerings to departed or departing ancestors.
The video is of course in Mandarin, but click here and you can see how people reacted. You'll hear references to Baidu "Oh, I use Baidu and I use Google. . ." and of particular interest is the range of written comments made to Gao Ming's post. There are fifteen pages of them and growing.
The comments range from reminders that Hong Kong is still China (or, wrote one commentator, "has Hong Kong not returned [to China]?" to a suggestion that China is headed back to the Qing dynasty, that China is once again falling behind, that Google will be missed, and several that essentially say "don't let the screen door hit you in the butt on your way out."
One of my favorites noted that it is impossible to get a sandwich without going into a KFC or into a McDonalds, and that with so much "red meat" to be had for foreign companies in the Chinese market, we should not be surprised to find battles over the rules that govern commerce on Chinese turf. In all, a healthy and lively discourse, arguably more civil than the stuff that has appeared on US blogs about our own recent struggles over health-care policy turf.
So Google's leaving by not leaving does not prevent the Great Firewall from censoring search results. It does send a signal that Google is not willing to self-censor. But it should also be a reminder that Chinese people are actively engaged in discussions about the nature of foreign company presence in China, that Google is appreciated by many, and that doing business in China means confronting difficult questions about local and national policy in an environment of growing local pride.
And before we cast stones at the PRC, its wise to remember that we have our own, very serious problems with Internet access, Internet security, and Internet privacy. Good luck, Google! No more delicious hot-pot around the corner from the HaiDian headquarters for the search-engine engineers. But Hong Kong food isn't so bad, either.
en 1:14 PM