Last week in China – An Open Letter to Google
The last week has been quiet on the Chinese Internet front. Maybe it has something to do with nearing Chinese New Year is nearing. And speaking of that, what would a new year be without some good resolutions?
Isaac Mao, a blog pioneer in China and co-founder of CN Blog, has summed up the resolutions he’d like Google to have for the year of the pig. He has written an open letter to Larry and Sergey, the founders of Google, titled, “To save Google in China and Save Internet in China”.
It’s a well-intended shout to Google to start acting in China and live up to their motto, “Do no evil” and help to de-censor the Internet in China. It also shows guts to write this as, as you may know by now, the Internet is censored in China and open opposition to it is not always appreciated.
From Isaac Mao
Google is ever regarded not only a leading Internet business, but a hope for many people around the world to open their thinking. Many bloggers in China still believe that in their everyday writings. We guess you were misled by incomplete information on how censorship is good to Chinese people. The fact is Google in the 130M-Internet-Users country is losing loyal users with loosing your principles. We understand its tough to anyone to make decisions. But it is high time to change it back to the right track.
He proposes 3 ideas that can help Google with it’s long term strategy in China.
- Set up a 1B US$ corporate venture fund to invest in China’s Internet pioneer sites and cutting edge companies.
- Develop anti-censorship tools and service for global Internet users.
- Increase the incentive to Chinese Google Adsense users.
Great ideas but maybe not all executable.
1. Set up a 1B US$ corporate venture fund to invest in China’s Internet
Google is already investing in China, see their recent investment in P2P sharing and search engine Xunlei and investing more can maybe give it slightly more leverage in the Chinese market but in the end of the day they will still have to comply with the local regulations if they want to stay.
2. Develop anti-censorship tools and service for global Internet users.
It would be great if they did but I’m not sure their stockholders would appreciate this as this will guarantee a run in with several governments around the globe, not only the Chinese government. If they would do this openly they will get ousted out of China before they can say Zaijian (Goodbye in Chinese)
In a way Google is already giving a tool, although for certain keywords blocked by the Chinese firewall. It’s called Google.com, which is available in Chinese, and results are not censored like Google.cn.
3. Increase the incentive to Chinese Google Adsense users.
His last suggestion is in my eyes the best one. Everybody likes to make money and even a couple of 100 Renminbi a month can pay a lot of meals here. Getting more Chinese websites to use adsense will get more webmasters involved with Google. The side effect is that once they start getting their checks they will get very edgy if for some reason Google is not available or not working smooth enough because of temporarily blocking etc.
The more webmasters get checks from Adsense, the more it becomes part of their expectations. Blocking websites that 99% of the Internet users is not interested in anyway won’t create much of an uproar. But blocking someone to make money maybe will.
I’m looking forward to the reply of Larry and Sergey.
Gemme van Hasselt is an Internet Marketing Consultant, living in Shanghai, and owner of thÃ© China Directory.