Google in China

14 January 2010

Thursday


In today’s Financial Times there were more than a half dozen stories on Google’s decision to cease its censorship of search results from within China. It was almost as big of a story as the earthquake in Haiti. There was an editorial, several commentaries, and a large story on the second page with bright color graphics.

The legacy of Mao Zedong can only with difficulty be reconciled with the emerging age of information technology.

There seem to be primarily two positions on this issue:

1) Google, being one of the rare western companies to achieve a significant market share in China (forty percent, or so), was on the verge of surrendering this valuable market share for purely idealistic reasons (after already having caved in to Chinese authorities as the initial condition of operating in the country), or

2) that China’s internet might become an enormous intranet, with the implication being that China would develop an internal (and somewhat backward) internet, a second tier internet, that would keep China permanently in the second (if not the third) tier of industrialized nation-states.

I was interested to find myself personally affected by Google’s ending of its Chinese censorship. A post that I wrote to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre, Anniversary of a Massacre, which had previously received an average of less than twenty hits per day, suddenly spiked and yesterday received more than a thousand hits. This is more hits than all the content on my blog usually receives in total, and so this spike in hits to my Tiananmen massacre piece showed up as a very noticeable spike in overall hits to my blog.

On the right you can clearly see the spike in traffic caused by the end of Google censorship in China.

Today’s hits have already declined significantly from yesterday’s highs, so it would seem that there is no special hunger among the Chinese for my particular take on the “June 4 Incident” (probably they were only looking at the pictures) nor for my commentary on any other matters, but it was interesting to see the spike in hits yesterday. The statistics provided by WordPress don’t allow you to see where the hits one’s blog receive are coming from, but my other posts retained their average traffic, so the addition of another three hundred million or so internet users did not affect them to any degree.

A poor screenshot in which you can make out the 1,065 hits to Anniversary of a Massacre.

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NOTE: I returned to this topic in Google in China, Again.

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Grand Strategy Annex

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