In an email circulating among China rights activists, BBC and Public Radio International reporter, Mary Kay Magistad reports:
I’m writing this at 10:30am on Jan. 13 in Beijing, where for the past hour or more a Google search for “Tiananmen” pulls up, at the top, graphic photos and descriptions of the crackdown, a Google search on “Falun Gong” pulls up videos of police beating and torturing Falun Gong members, and a Google search on “Tibet” pulls up the Tibet rights groups and documentation on the crackdown on Tibetans since March 2008. A Google search on “China” + “human rights” pulls up, as its first item, a news report that Google is threatening to shut down its operations in China after uncovering what it said were “highly sophisticated” cyberattacks, originating from China, aimed at Chinese human rights activists and at at least 20 other unidentified firms. As a result, Google has said that at the very least it will no longer censor its search engine in China.
Mary Kay Magistad
BBC/Public Radio International’s “The World”
I was skeptical that Google would actually pull out of China in full. That decision remains to be seen and will likely be made after negotiations with the Chinese government. I think Google is now showing the Chinese government they are serious about ending their partnership and allowing all information to appear on google.cn without prior censorship. The question will be how Google handles the Chinese government’s response. Will they hold firm for free speech and free information? It’s too soon to tell, but this opening is clearly a shot at the Chinese government.