In a move protesting the Chinese government's Internet censorship, Google has moved its search engine for Chinese Web surfers offshore. Internet users who typed in the search engine's address are being redirected to one based in Hong Kong, where the government doesn't censor Web browsing.
Google's decision to pull out of China has prompted mixed reactions from Chinese citizens and government officials. Some people placed flowers on the Google sign at its Beijing headquarters in a sign of mourning, and sympathetic bloggers spoke up for the American company. The Chinese government asserted its right to maintain the Internet according to the country's legislation and rules.
Google, which is only the third biggest Internet company in China's massive market, has agreed to voluntary limits on content since 2006. That included blocking searches for anything related to the 1989 crackdown in Tiananmen Square, the exiled Dalai Lama, or the banned Falun Gong protest group. However, Google's stance changed in January after its e-mail service was targeted by hackers.
"This is about a question of censorship. And it's a question of still trying to give the Chinese users the most possible information uncensored." - Google spokesperson
"We require foreign businesses operating in China to behave professionally and do business legally. At the same time, we will manage the Internet according to Chinese legislation and rules." - Qin Gang, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson
"The government doesn't understand progressive production forces and advanced technology. How can they represent modern culture? They block the Internet. They are an obstacle to the advancement of production forces in China." - Lao Humiao, blogger
"Were I China, I would -- I would seriously consider the implications when one of the world's most recognizable institutions has decided that it's too difficult to do business in China. And that has implications. But that ultimately is something for China to evaluate." - P.J. Crowley, U.S. assistant secretary of state for public affairs
1. What kind of government does China have?
2. What does Internet freedom mean?
3. What is censorship?
1. Do you think Google made the right move by pulling out of China? Why/why not?
2. What kinds of online content do you think the Chinese government wants to censor, and why?
3. Why did Google choose Hong Kong as the new base for its servers? How does Hong Kong differ from the rest of China?
4. How does this debate about Google in China reflect larger ideological disagreements between China and the U.S.? How do the two countries' governments and beliefs differ from one another?
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