The Divorce Between Google And China

For millions of Chinese netizens, it’s the time to say goodbye to Google.

Google, the largest Internet giant in the world, has been struggling with the same question since it came to China 4 years ago: compromise with the Chinese government on censoring certain websites, in order to access the largest population in the world, or stick to its principle while giving up the huge commercial benefit of investing in China.


It agreed to compromise in 2006, with the confidence that it would maintain its motto “don’t be evil”. But now Google changes the stance: it has announced that it will stop filtering its search results and redirect the customers of to the new page,, which is based in Hong Kong.

Why did Google decide to leave China at this particular time? The alleged reason is that Chinese government hacked into several human rights dissidents’ gmail accounts, and Google was provoked by it. But from my perspective, this couldn’t be the real reason. Google has its long term business strategies, which couldn’t be changed immediately.   There is only one reason that could explain the sudden change: as an Internet giant, Google cannot be a loser in China anymore.

Google only shared 6.8% of the Internet searching market in China, while Baidu, a Chinese local searching company, occupied 80%, according to 2009 Data Center of China Internet Report. Though Google has made every endeavor to win Chinese netizens in the past 4 years, it finally realized that it is too hard to change the searching behaviors-people prefer to use the search engine they are familiar with. As for China, Baidu has dominated the market for years, leaving little space for Google to survive. Weighing the pros and cons, Google finally decided to withdraw from the battle it could never win.

The divorce between the country with the largest Internet population and the biggest IT company leaves one question: which party will get hurt? Chinese people cannot enjoy the power of the “perfect search” any more, but they can easily find a substitute. As for Google, breaking down the relationship with Chinese government may mean more than it could imagine: it could be possible that Google will lose its Chinese partners in the other business fields, such as the cell phone services, music services, etc. In general, it is definitely a lose-lose situation for both of them, but especially for the Internet search giant.


About Yifei Liu
I am a senior research assistant at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). I received a master’s degree in journalism from UW-Madison with a focus on international and economic reporting in 2011 and a B.A in journalism from Renmin University of China in 2009. I am now living in Alexandria, VA.

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