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.