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January 02, 2007
Google's latest move in China
Google is making a move in China that might add to its PR problems in the rest of the world. According to this article in the Chinese press, the search giant is investing in a video-sharing company called Xunlei that is based in Shenzhen. There are a ton of Web 2.0 companies in China that aspire to be the Chinese YouTube or the Chinese MySpace, and teaming up with Google might give Xunlei an edge over rivals such as Tudou, the Shanghai startup that was one of the first to enter the market.
Good news for Xunlei. But such video sharing services have to make sure that no clips violate the Chinese government’s policies on taboo content, and to do that companies employ censors who work 24/7 to prevent offensive videos from making it online. Google received a heap of criticism early this year for censoring the search results of its Chinese site, and this move into video sharing – and video censorship – probably will make the company’s critics even more convinced that it has sold out its don’t-be-evil ethos.
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It should be noted that even though Google execs ceded to meet China's strict regulations, they initially refused to provide circumscribed web content resulting in the Chinese government proactively intervening to block certain websites.
Google realized that if they wanted to continue their growth and development abroad, which must include China with its rapidly growing internet user growth, they needed to shift their business strategy to adapt to its local conditions (and governing laws). As foreign internet companies continue to expand their reach into the Chinese market and others start moving over, in order to compete and grow they needed to adapt along with everyone else.
While trying to protect their mantra of freedom, free-speech and unrestricted privileges is noteworthy, providing a service is really about the culture and the people and giving them access to a top-quality product that they otherwise would not have had.
Posted by: Deanna L Shaw at January 6, 2007 02:08 PM
the bigger issue for google is that xunlei is a massive piracy platform. with this investment they are financing the theft of copyrighted content by xunlei users. EVIL
Posted by: bzy at January 19, 2007 06:13 AM
Why do we keep supporting a country which defiles basic human rights so drastically? Let's not. Just say No.
Posted by: k. at March 15, 2007 02:52 PM