Announcing radical changes to the way it will do business in China, Google went so far on Tuesday as to threaten to withdraw entirely from the country if censorship policies are not relaxed. These policies have, in the past, led to the modification of Google search results within China, as well as cyber-attacks by the government against human rights activists.
Not much has been heard as of yet in terms of a response from Chinese officials, although The New York Times quotes a representative of the Chinese Foreign Ministry as stating in a recent press conference that companies doing business in China must comply with Chinese laws.
Should Google withdraw from China, the company would be abandoning a market of web users to both China’s native competition, as well as major rivals like Apple and Microsoft. There’s also the question of what would happen to indirect markets, such as the Android platform. The device does not require integration with other Google services, but that has been one of the product’s main selling points. It’s also entirely possible that the Chinese government could block Android devices, should Google follow through on its threat.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that there has been a bit of internal turmoil at Google over the decision. Google co-founder Sergey Brin is the main proponent of the move against China, while CEO Eric Schmidt argues that the company should rather continue trying to work within the country rather than abandoning it outright.
Citizens in support of Google’s announcement gathered in front of the company’s Chinese offices in a show of solidarity, according to China news site CNReviews.com.