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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Google appears to drop censorship in China

March 17, 2010

Internet giant denies change, but famous 'Tank Man' picture now accessible
By Adrienne Mong NBC, msnbc.com and news services
March. 16, 2010

BEIJING - Web sites dealing with subjects such as the Tiananmen Square
democracy protests, Tibet and regional independence movements could all be
accessed through Google's Chinese search engine Tuesday, after the company
said it would no longer abide by Beijing's censorship rules.

Despite a report in the China Daily that Google China was still filtering
content on its search engine and the firm's own insistence that its policies
had not changed, people in Beijing found that it wasn't necessarily the
case.

NBC News, using the publicly accessible Internet, tried searching for three
sensitive topics normally blocked in China.

The first phrase typed into Google.cn was "Xinjiang independence," and the
top result was a Wikipedia entry about the East Turkestan independence
movement.

The second search attempted was the "Tibet Information Network," a former
non-profit group that was critical of China's policies in the region.

Tank man image now available When NBC News in Beijing did a search for the
words "Tank Man" in Chinese characters, the iconic image did appear. But it
was only one image came back as a result, not several like you likely find
on U.S. based Internet search.

And when "June 4," the term used for the Tiananmen protests in China, was
searched with Chinese characters, again just one image of the Tank Man
appeared."

For the final search, "Tiananmen Square massacre" was typed in, deliberately
choosing the more controversial phrase instead of "Tiananmen Square
incident."

Once again, a long list of results appeared, detailing the military
crackdown on protesters on 4 June 1989. The famous picture of a lone man
blocking a line of tanks was among them.

Each time, simply clicking on the links to the results enabled the sites to
be accessed without any difficulty.

"It does seem that the filters are not fully working," said Jeremy Goldkorn,
founder of danwei.org, a Beijing-based Web site that tracks media and the
internet in China.

"But no one knows exactly what's going [on]," he said.

The searches proved erratic and on some occasions access to controversial
Web sites was denied. But there was a significant change compared to six
months ago.

Messages from NBC News Beijing at Google China's offices have been left
unreturned.

Chinese news reports say Google is on the verge of shutting its China site,
Google.cn, and some say it has stopped censoring results.

Google denies censorship lifted However, a Google spokesman in the U.S.,
Scott Rubin, told the U.S. that censorship had not stopped and would not
confirm whether Google.cn might close.

"We have not changed our operations in China," Rubin said by phone from
Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

CEO Eric Schmidt said last week something would happen soon, and Rubin said
he had no further details.

Another Google spokesman told msnbc.com that the company suggested the
change may have resulted from alterations made by the Chinese government.

Google says it is in talks with Beijing following its Jan. 12 announcement
that it no longer wants to comply with Beijing's extensive Web controls.

But China's industry minister insisted Friday the company must obey Chinese
law, which appears to leave few options other than closing Google.cn, which
has about 35 percent of China's search market.

Such a step could have repercussions for major Chinese companies as well as
local Web surfers. It would deliver a windfall to local rival Baidu Inc.,
China's major search engine, with 60 percent of the market. But other
companies rely on Google for search, maps and other services and might be
forced to find alternatives.

'A lose-lose scenario' China without Google could mean no more maps on
mobile phones. A free music service that has helped to fight piracy might be
in jeopardy. China's fledgling Web outfits would face less pressure to
improve, eroding their ability to one day compete abroad.

The extent of a possible Google Inc. pullout from China in its dispute with
the communist government over censorship and hacking is unclear.

But on top of a local search site that Google says it may close, services
that might be affected range from advertising support for Chinese companies
to online entertainment.

"If Google leaves, it's a lose-lose scenario, instead of Google loses and
others gain," said Edward Yu, president of Analysys International, a Beijing
research firm.

A key issue is whether Beijing, angry and embarrassed by Google's public
defiance, would allow the company to continue running other operations,
including advertising and a fledgling mobile phone businesses in China if
Google.cn closes.

China promotes Internet use for business and education but bars access to
sites run by human rights and political activists and some news outlets.

Officials, who defend China's controls by pointing to countries that bar
content such as child pornography, are stung that Google has drawn attention
to how much more pervasive Chinese limits are.

Chinese Web surfers are blocked from seeing Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and
major blog-hosting services abroad and a Google pullout would leave them
increasingly isolated.

Google hopes to keep operating its Beijing research and development center,
advertising sales offices and mobile phone business, according to a person
familiar with the company's thinking. But the person said the company won't
do that if it believes its decision to stop censoring search results will
jeopardize employees in China. Industry analysts estimate Google has a work
force of 700 in China.

The government says Chinese mobile phone carriers will be allowed to use
Google's Android operating system, but there has been no word on whether
efforts to sell its own phones in China might be affected.

Google postponed the launch of two phones with a major Chinese carrier due
to the dispute.

Piracy 'thrives' on censorship Uncertainty also surrounds Google's China
music portal, a free, advertising-supported service launched last year in
partnership with four global music companies and 14 independent labels.
Industry analysts say it has helped to undercut China's rampant music piracy
by offering an alternative to unlicensed copying.

The music service is run by Top100.cn, a company part-owned by Google, but
can be accessed only through Google.cn. Employees at Top100.cn referred
questions to executives who did not immediately answer phone calls.

"Without that, are we back to, 'Piracy wins'?" said Duncan Clark, managing
director of BDA China Ltd., a technology market research firm.

"Piracy thrives because of censorship."

The biggest impact of a Google departure could lie behind the scenes, where
Chinese companies, many of them small entrepreneurs, rely on its AdWords
advertising service, Gmail e-mail and documents services.

Those might be disrupted if Beijing turns up Internet filters to block
access to Google's sites abroad. Its U.S. site has a Chinese-language search
engine but is already inaccessible due to government filters.

In an uncomfortable irony for Beijing, Google might suffer little commercial
loss from a pullout while China's own companies are hurt.

The bulk of Google's estimated $300 million in 2009 revenues in China came
from export-oriented companies that would need to keep advertising on its
sites abroad even if Google.cn closes, according to Yu.

"We believe the majority of revenue would still be kept on, with keyword
purchases listed on Google.com instead of Google.cn," he said.

The loss of competitive pressure from Google also might slow Chinese
development in search and other Internet services, Yu said.

"This is definitely a bad thing for Chinese companies that want to go abroad
in the future," he said.

The industry minister, Li Yizhong, said Friday that China's Internet
industry would develop without Google. But even some Chinese industry
leaders who normally toe the government line in public are warning that
controls on Internet companies and media are handicapping their growth.

Beijing has steadily tightened controls over Internet content and foreign
investment in the industry. Video sharing sites must have state-owned media
outlets as partners. People in the industry say it is getting harder to
register privately financed sites.

"Without full and fair market competition, there will be no quality, no
excellence, no employment opportunities, no stability and no real rise of
China," said the chairman of major Chinese portal Sohu Inc., Charles Zhang,
in a speech in February, according to a report on Sohu's Web site.

"How do we do this practically?" Zhang said. "The problem is complicated,
but the fundamental point is to limit the power of the government."
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
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