Anti-China activists call for Valentine’s Day boycott of Google

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Students for a Free Tibet, which strongly opposes the government in Beijing, says Google lovers should break up with the company on February 14th, even if it’s just for a day. The group has set up a site where consumers can find links to other search engines that don’t do business with China.

Critics have torched Google over the company’s recent decision to censor search results on its China site in order to meet Beijing’s requirements for doing business in China.

Google declined our interview request, but provided a written statement.

Google is this week launching Google.cn, as part of our continued efforts to improve our search experience for users in the People’s Republic of China, and to advance our mission of making all the world’s information universally available and accessible.

Google’s success has been built on satisfying our users’ interests, expanding access to information, and responding to local conditions in the markets we serve. Our approach to Google.cn aims to balance these important values.

Google believes that Google.cn will provide meaningful benefits to Chinese Internet users. With Google.cn, Chinese users will ultimately receive a search service that is fast, always accessible, and helps them find information both in China and from around the world. To date, our search service has been offered exclusively from outside China, resulting in latency and access issues that have been unsatisfying to our Chinese users and, therefore, unacceptable to Google.

Google is mindful that governments around the world impose restrictions on access to information. In order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn, in response to local law, regulation or policy. While removing search results is inconsistent with Google’s mission, providing no information (or a heavily degraded user experience that amounts to no information) is more inconsistent with our mission.

In deciding how best to approach the Chinese – or any – market, we must balance our commitments to satisfy the interests of users, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions. Our strategy for doing business in China seeks to achieve that balance through three key elements: improved disclosure, targeted entry, and local investment.

Improved disclosure: Google.cn will comply with local Chinese laws and regulations. We intend to disclose to users when information has been removed from our search results in response to local laws and regulations, as we do in Germany, France, and the US.

Targeted entry: At this time, we are starting with the launch of our search service. Other products – such as Gmail and Blogger – will be introduced only when we are comfortable that we can do so in a way that strikes a proper balance among our commitments to satisfy users’ interests, expand access to information, and respond to local conditions. As we develop a greater understanding of the Chinese market, we intend to add more products and services to Google.cn.

Local investment: Looking beyond the Google.cn launch, we will continue to make significant investments in research and development in China. We believe these investments will help us to better tailor our products to user demands and better demonstrate how the Internet can help advance key objectives of the Chinese government, such as building stronger, more efficient, and more equitable markets, and promoting the rule of law.

As an emerging economic powerhouse, China is developing rapidly, thanks in no small measure to the Internet. We firmly believe, with our culture of innovation, Google can make meaningful and positive contributions to the already impressive pace of development in China.

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