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28 Mar, 2010 08:36

Google out of China

As Google reroutes its Chinese-language search to Hong Kong, questions remain over the company's motivations.

What does this decision mean for Internet freedom?

“We’re going to see a lot more of government, military influence with the internet,” said investigative journalist and RT contributor Wayne Madsen.

Google has marketed the decision as a noble one, implying that the company would rather leave the lucrative Chinese market than abide by censorship laws. However, some analysts have argued that Google wasn’t particularly profitable in China anyway. The American search engine has only a fraction of the market share of local competitor Baidu.com. But the potential for Internet growth in the country is huge.

“I don’t think Google is making this decision just based on business. The opportunities for them to be there over the next 5, 10, 20 years are not something they would just turn down,” said reporter Greg White of the Business Insider. “This is about information, which is what China is most concerned about. It’s very important for China to have control over what their domestic population sees.”

Google is not completely giving up on China, however. The company is maintaining a research and development facility along with some sales staff in Beijing. Whether or not Google’s search functions will return to the Chinese market may depend on multinational negotiations.

“This could be the beginning of a new form of international warfare,” said Madsen.

Investigative journalist Webster Tarpley thinks the belief that moving operations to Hong Kong will solve the problem is naive.

“The problem is, from the Chinese point of view of course, Hong Kong is an integral part of China,” Tarpley told RT. “So if Google thinks they can simply move their server to Hong Kong out of mainland and continue, I think they are crazy, because this will simply force the Chinese to extend the full force of the filtering to Hong Kong.”