Type to search

(Pre)-Mourning Google

GB Geo-Blog

(Pre)-Mourning Google

Dusk is settling on The Google Empire in the high tech park of Haidian District in Beijing.  Still, a trickle of Google fans gather outside the building where just a few hours ago, security guards took away a bouquets that Googlers set on the Google plaque in a gesture of mourning.  Now, only a few single stem roses lay there, and on top of them, three stone weights holding down “mourners” notes to Google (see below).

A twenty-one year old high school drop out who calls himself Bamind arrived on this morning’s 8am train from the city of Shenyang in Liaoning province.  He took the 700 RMB train ride just to stand in front of Google’s office.  “I’m the lowest rung of society in Shenyang.  My mother is unemployed and we rely on my grandfather’s retirement compensation.  I’m a loyal Google fan; they don’t do evil,” he declared.  He heard the news morning of Wednesday, immediately tapped into Twitter, and was inspired by netizens who were mourning Google.  “Bamind” feels conflicted about Google’s announcement to pull out.   On the one hand, he feels that Google has made the right decision because the current climate in China is not conducive to the company’s growth.  But on the other hand, Google’s departure is Chinese netizens’ loss.

Google’s departure threat is a mixed New Year’s blessing not only for young netizens like Bamind but also for certain officials within the bureaucracy who have been hoping for reform in censorship rules.     The day after the announcement, a senior editor in a major state-run newspaper confided to me that he hopes this will finally force the  government to create a much smarter system for monitoring online content. Google has generated much-needed internal debate and external pressure at the cost of their stocks.  But both Google and the US Congress are now facing a China who is not afraid to say “no.”

A Googler's letter: George Orwell, Animal Farm--a faily tale.  "Dear Google, Thanks for choosing principle over profit.  That takes balls." -- Concerned Netizen

A Googler's letter: George Orwell, Animal Farm--a fairy tale. "Dear Google, Thanks for choosing principle over profit. That takes balls." -- Concerned Netizen

The opinions expressed in this blog are strictly personal, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Global Brief or the Glendon School of of Public and International Affairs.


  1. Arijit Banik January 17, 2010

    I would be very interested in how you see this unravelling in the months to come. Dominic Lawson’s take in The Sunday Times (link :http://bit.ly/7muWsX ) was that history would ultimately reveal GOOGLE as the winner of this joust despite the Chinese Communist Party’s “genius for repression.”

  2. Chinese sceptic January 28, 2010

    I am not so convinced that Google’s motto of ‘don’t do evil’ is necessarily black and white and unchanging (after all, it changed its policies when dealing with the Chinese). Is gathering information on an individual’s search terms (both on its website, and using its infamous Chrome browser) evil? The fact that Hilary Clinton stepped in on this debate shows just how closely linked the US government is to this information behemoth. It is strategically unsound to hand over this influence to a company which may not ultimately act in the best interest of the Chinese netizens (think of a future scenario of conflict between China and US). This is not a debate about free speech or information. It is about information control. Whilst the rest of West can afford to hand such control to the US, China cannot afford to do so.

Leave a Comment

Next Up