It’s also a controversy at the moment.
First of all, there is Google’s motto: “Don’t Be Evil” — which may be the most awkward use of words they could’ve chosen. Someone running across that would think, “hmmm… just what particular evil were they considering? Am I missing something?” If you’re going to choose a motto, phrase it positively — as in “Do Good” or, closer “Refrain From Evil.” But with this one, it’s only too easy to take a whack at it and end up with
Don’t Be Evil… which is what any number of angry bloggers have proceeded to do since Google decided to go to China.
The controversy has essentially two sides (or three, if you count those who are indifferent. But they probably don’t count in a contretemps, do they?).
On the first side are those who are angry because they’re convinced that what Google (and Yahoo and that Big Satan, Microsoft) did is harmful to the United States and to the West and to those Chinese who will be monitored and perhaps punished, as was the case with Yahoo. Thus, by their standards, Google is a pariah and should be treated as such: divest your stock (oh, that I had some to divest!); give up using Google Ads on your blog and sacrifice the revenue therefrom; inveigh against this decision and call for a boycott.
A few well-known facts:
- China is fiercely xenophobic.
- China is neither a democracy or a republic.
- China does not believe in or promote free access to information by its citizens.
- China is fast catching up to the rest of the world in areas of technology. For example, they have trained thousands of oil and gas pipeline workers in order to be ready for the petroleum land battles that are sure to come.
- China does not merely import military knowledge. It also uses the cultural artifacts of the West and incorporates them, unlike, say, the Middle East.
- China’s middle class is growing exponentially.
- China is family over the individual; the group is primary.
- China is Confucian rather than Aristotelian or Christian (despite inroads, the state still controls the churches, at least on the surface).
- China is immense and probably ungovernable in its present state. We may see it split over the coming century.
So there’s the other side. Some believe that Google’s decision to work within the limits imposed by the Chinese government is just the foot under the tent. As with all the West’s previous dealings with China, the latter will become more Westernized and more open as a result of the contact. Thus, we ought to welcome the idea since it means China becomes less a threat to us.
Don’t forget that China is full of young, intelligent and well-educated men — far more than it really knows what to do with since its population control policies have included the unintended consequence of millions of aborted female fetuses.
These intelligent, bored “youths” take great pleasure in hacking, just for the sheer fun of getting away with it. So guess what many of them will be doing once China has Google on board. That’s right: they’ll make Google’s entry into China the widening point of an already-growing chasm between young and old, bureaucrat and individual, son and family.
Ah, China: you have once again doomed yourself to live in interesting times.