(Now updated with the original speech at YouTube)
In his speech at the famous Austin SXSW China’s prominent internet watcher Kaiser Kuo closed his keynote with a few scenario’s Google has in China. Google threatened to leave China in January after hacker attacks in December, said it would stop censoring its China search engine. But neither has happened, while the tension has gone up. In a summery of ReadWriteWeb:
Kuo said that the Chinese government will wait for Google to make the next move. It realises it has nothing to gain by pushing Google or being openly hostile. The ball is in Google’s court and it will probably keep to its word that it will stop censorship in China. It may still shut down operations in China, which in practice means closing google.cn. But this has a lot of problematic scenarios – including the difficulty of having translations done for Google.com and staffing issues of closing down.
The pros of pulling out of China include saving face and appeasing western users. But the cons are significant. They include a backlash from tech-savvy, urban Google users, a setback to scientific research, a global black eye for their image, and ceding the virtual monopoly in search in China to Baidu.
The moderate scenario is that Google.cn is shut down, but continues to work with its mobile partners in China, R&D and sales continue to operate in China, and Google services will be unblocked.
The best case scenario, Kuo believes, would be if Google stopped censoring google.cn – but the service stays online.
Kaiser Kuo is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need him at your conference, do
get in touch.
Kaiser Kuo also contributed a chapter to our book A Changing China, describing the history of rock music in China from his own perspective.