RealTime IT News

Google Defends Cooperation With China

Google is defending its cooperation with the Chinese government's restrictions on Internet users.

CEO Eric Schmidt told reporters Google must abide by Chinese laws limiting online access. But others within the Internet company quietly say it is doing the least possible to keep censors happy.

Schmidt, who is in China to announce a new Beijing research center and a Chinese-language brand name, said Google's decision to comply with local restrictions was "absolutely the right one," according to a Reuters report.

Google made the decision to restrict access to Web sites, blogs and controversial topics to give the Internet company access to the burgeoning nation. With more than 111 million Internet users, China has the second-largest online population after the U.S.

The statements mark Google's re-emergence in China after being hammered by activists and lawmakers over its actions limiting access to search results.

In January, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Cisco declined to testify before a Congressional human rights briefing investigating China's Internet censorship policies.

"We're faced with a choice which runs counter to our mission, either way you cut it," a source within Google told internetnews.com.

Although Google feels all information should be available, it can either provide China's users 99 percent of search results or bow out of the market and offer no information.

In a nod to China's importance to the Internet powerhouse, Google today announced creation of a Beijing research center, which, Schmidt said, will eventually house thousands of engineers working on products. The Google CEO sees China becoming the company's largest research center besides the U.S.

In March, Google told investors interest by the Chinese was so high that universities in the country have resorted to issuing tickets when Kai-Fu Lee, Google's research head in China, gave speeches.

Stung by criticism that the Internet search company filters searches for "Tiananmen Square," "democracy," or "human rights," Google is doing the minimum amount of filtering possible to keep the Web site online, according to the insider.

"It's our goal to push the bounds" on how much information escapes China's Internet restrictions, the spokesperson said.

Responding to calls for Google to ask the Chinese government to relax its restrictions, Schmidt told reporters it would be arrogant for the company to tell China how to operate.

Google has little clout to use in bargaining with the Chinese, according to the anonymous source. "We are such a small player now."

Indeed, a recent report from iResearch found that Baidu.com lead Chinese search with 56.6 percent of the market while Google is second with 32.8 percent of the sector. Yahoo has 5 percent of the China market, according to iResearch.

In an effort to increase their market share, Google unveiled a Chinese-language brand name: "Gu Ge," which means "Valley Song."

The drastic difference in writing makes the localized brand a first, according to Google. While the brand isn't being marketed now, there are plans to use the name to increase awareness of Google among Chinese users.