January 20, 2010

ALL THE DISADVANTAGES OF JAPAN BUT NONE OF THE ADVANTAGES (via Qiao Yang):

Why China Needs Google More Than Google Needs China: Cyber attacks targeting Gmail accounts of Chinese human right activists have led to a decision by Google to relax self-censorship for China. This may be the first step in a much larger pullout from China by tech giant Google. This bold business move is a good thing, according to Popular Mechanics's senior technology editor, Glenn Derene. Here, Derene argues that China needs Google's innovation and creativity much more than Google needs Chinese business. (Glenn Derene, January 13, 2010, Popular Mechanics)

Currently, it is a case of who needs whom more. It seems unlikely that China will loosen its restrictions for the second most popular search engine in the country. But having Google pull out its business may prove too much of an embarrassment and an acknowledgement of systemic repression, two things the Chinese government would like to avoid. Google could end up losing out on a potentially huge market, but if it doesn't stand up for its IP, the Chinese will most certainly take such steps again in the future.

In fact, the tough part is that even if Google, and, for that matter, other tech companies, pull operations out of China, they will still face hacker thefts of IP from afar—Internet larceny knows no boundaries. But China may be taking the bigger risk here. Part of the reason the U.S. has proved so technologically creative is that we have a free and open information economy—and China has, thus far, benefited from advances born here. If U.S. tech companies are forced to take a defensive stance toward China, that country will find itself isolated from the creativity of the West. And try as they might, it's doubtful that China can completely steal its way to technological creativity. China has done a great job of developing its manufacturing base, but that country still lags when it comes to technological innovation. And I'd argue that China won't develop along those lines until it allows for the free exchange of ideas and the protection of intellectual property. Hacking e-mail and driving the greatest information discovery service ever invented out of your country certainly won't help those goals.


China would have to so radically change its culture in order to become creative that it would basically cease to exist. But the bigger problem is it doesn't have that much time.



Posted by Orrin Judd at January 20, 2010 6:44 PM
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