Could Google's new tough stance on China change the way the country is seen internationally? While the Atlantic Wire already covered debate
over Google's motives for taking a stand against censorship, some commentators are focusing more on the international ramifications. Many are predicting negative fallout for the Chinese government, calling Google's decision a watershed moment for American companies doing business in China.
- Hang on to Your Hats "This is only going to be a trickier issue in the next decade," warns Sarah Lacy at TechCrunch. In the future, Chinese companies "could be likely buyers of US startups--not the other way around. Will the Valley's rhetoric stick then?"
- 'China's Bush-Cheney Era' The Atlantic's James Fallows, veteran China commentator and former China resident, says that "In terms of the next stage of China's emergence as a power and dealings with the United States, this event has the potential to make a great deal of difference--in a negative way, for China." His reasoning: formerly, it was U.S. leadership "much of the world saw as deliberately antagonizing them." With the administration change in the U.S. and Chinese provocation, "China, by contrast, seems to be entering its Bush-Cheney era. ... its government is on a path at the moment that courts resistance around the world. To me, that is what Google's decision signifies."
- Google Can Do This--U.S. Government Can't "From the standpoint of pressing China on human rights, suffice it to say that Google has a freer hand than the U.S. government," notes The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder. "It may set an example for other companies, who will now face similar pressure to either acknowledge the Chinese cyber attacks or the increased surveillance of dissidents."
- Don't Wait for Mass Exodus from China, writes Andrew Browne at The Wall Street Journal, or any other "heroic gestures from mining companies, music publishers and merchant banks, who've all had run-ins with Chinese authorities lately." Yet he doesn't think the Google move is insignificant:
Google may just have set a new benchmark for corporate morality in China. Call it the Google Standard. Other companies will be judged against it, not just by human rights groups but a host of other "stakeholders" whose interests Western companies must take into account, from ethical investors to consumer groups. If Google could defy China, these groups will ask, why not you?
- Starting the Wave of Backlash The Guardian's Charles Arthur acknowledges that the idea that "Internet censorship will end in China" is "hopelessly optimistic." But here's what he's hoping to see change: "Google ... is putting western companies and governments on notice that it is now OK to say China is a bad neighbour on the internet."