不 過﹐這一決定仍留下了諸多不確定因素﹐例如Google.com.hk是否能保持可接入狀態、谷歌能否繼續在中國從事廣告銷售及研發等業務﹐以及此事會給 谷歌在華合作伙伴帶來什麼樣的影響。與谷歌有合作關係的公司包括門戶網站新浪網(Sina.com)以及國有電信運營商中國移動(China Mobile Ltd.)等。
谷 歌在中國的一些擁護者和前員工對它的行動表達了不滿。一位與留在公司的朋友交談過的前員工表示﹐存在失望﹐我相信也存在一定程度的憤怒。這位前員工說﹐此 舉應該是違背了谷歌早前表達的﹐在對審查有疑慮的情況下仍然致力於中國業務的決心。其首席執行長斯密特(Eric Schmidt)2006年發表的聲明就反映了這一點﹐聲明說﹐谷歌將採用一種長遠觀點來在中國取勝﹔中國人有5,000年的歷史﹐谷歌有5,000年的 耐心。
谷歌在週一的聲明中說﹐其600名 在華員工的未來將取決於事情的進展﹐一些員工可能會被調往其他地方或被解雇。聲明強調﹐谷歌有關中國的決定是在美國做出的﹐在中國的任何員工都不能也不應 該對此承擔責任﹐並讚揚中國員工雖然自1月份的聲明以來面臨了諸多不確定和困難﹐仍繼續為用戶和客戶提供服務。
哈佛法學院(Harvard Law School)互聯網問題學者帕爾弗里(John Palfrey)說﹐如果能夠維持下去﹐那麼這是一個體面的解決辦法﹐但我相信中國不會允許這種情況繼續下去。
谷 歌於2000年首次推出中文搜索服務﹐但這項服務是在美國運營﹐所以它的網站容易受到中國審查機構的間歇性屏蔽﹐對谷歌的訪問請求有時候甚至還被他們轉到 中國的搜索網站。2006年﹐谷歌推出Google.cn﹐不過包括聯合創始人布林(Sergey Brin)在內的一些高管對審查搜索結果存在保留意見。
China’s Internet Giants May Be Stuck There
Published: March 23, 2010
SHANGHAI — Even before Google began threatening to shut down its search service in China, it was not fitting in.
Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
Instead, the hottest companies in the world’s biggest Internet market have names like Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba — fast-growing local firms that are making huge profits. Post-Google, China’s Internet market could increasingly resemble a lucrative, walled-off bazaar, experts say. Those homegrown successes, however, could have trouble becoming global brands.
“If the Chinese government continues to favor domestic companies, those companies that reach critical mass could become phenomenally profitable,” said Gary Rieschel, founder of Qiming Ventures, an American venture capital firm with investments in China. “But it may be hard for those companies to become world class without outside competition.”
Still, the success of Chinese companies here can be measured by the numbers.
Revenue at Tencent, a kind of Internet conglomerate, jumped over 70 percent last year, to about $1.8 billion.
Baidu, a Google look-alike, has largely clobbered Google in China, despite giving up some ground in recent years. And Taobao.com, China’s huge e-commerce site, handled nearly $30 billion in transactions last year.
The story behind the success of these companies is a simple one, some analysts say. The young people who dominate Web use in China are not just searching for information; they’re searching for a lifestyle. They are passionate about downloading music, playing online games and engaging in social networking.
“Sixty percent of the Internet users here are under the age of 30,” said Richard Ji, an Internet analyst at Morgan Stanley. “In the U.S., it’s the other way around. And in the U.S. it’s about information. But in China, the No. 1 priority is entertainment.”
Experts say American companies have largely failed here because they don’t have local expertise, are too slow to adapt and don’t know how to deal with the Chinese government.
“Internet companies in China have to work so closely with the government,” said Xiao Qiang, of the China Internet project at the University of California, Berkeley. “And that means the government’s political agenda can become the company’s business agenda.”
The need to censor Web sites, for example, can overwhelm smaller companies, Mr. Xiao said. “This becomes a growing business cost. So often, small companies don’t develop.”
At this stage, analysts say the Web in China is less about innovation than about quickly delivering on the latest online trend.
“People here are quick to see trends, and to clone and innovate,” said William Bao Bean, a former Internet analyst who is now a partner at Softbank China & India Holdings. “If one company is doing well, other companies will quickly clone it and roll it out.”
No company is better at that than Tencent, which is based in the southern city of Shenzhen.
The company’s biggest weapon is a popular instant messaging service called QQ. Its 500 million active users give the company an advantage when it introduces new products and offerings, like online games.
Tencent was founded in 1998 by a group of friends that included Ma Huateng, also known as Pony, who is now its 38-year-old billionaire chief executive. With Tencent commanding a stock market value of $37.2 billion, the only global Internet companies that are worth more are Google ($173.7 billion) and Amazon ($57.2 billion).
But there are other Chinese powerhouses. Baidu, which dominates the market for search advertising in China, is expected to benefit from Google’s departure, even though its own search engine is heavily censored. (Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, which remains censored, could also gain users.)
Investors are clearly betting on Baidu’s future. Since January, when Google first announced that it might exit China, shares of Baidu have leapt 50 percent, adding $7 billion to the company’s market value.
One advantage local companies have is government protectionism. Because the Communist Party wants to maintain tight control over communication and the media, foreign Internet companies come under suspicion.
For instance, YouTube has been blocked inside the country for over a year, ever since a user uploaded a video that was said to show human rights violations in Tibet.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, had a large following here. But now online video in China is being championed by companies like Youku.com and Tudou.com. They may have dominated anyway, analysts say, but it certainly helps to have few big competitors.
And without competition here from Facebook, which has not yet tried to develop a site for the Chinese market, a social networking site called Kaixin001.com has managed to register over 70 million users.
But some experts say Google’s departure will leave Internet users here with fewer options, making the country’s Internet market less competitive and less open.
“The biggest loser is Netizens,” says Fang Xingdong, chief executive of Chinalabs.com, a research firm. “Google is a multilinguistic search engine, but Baidu is a Chinese-language one. Chinese information only occupies a small fraction of the Internet.”
Google was troubled by censors. And it’s clear that censors make some of the material on Baidu’s search engine look like the bulletin board of propaganda, with some links directed to People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece.
But Chinese Internet companies go along, despite some misgivings, sensing that the real money is in online fun and games. These seem to flourish despite repeated government crackdowns and warnings about Internet-addicted youth and illegal music downloads.
One question, though, is whether Google’s departure will prevent Chinese companies from developing alongside the world’s technology powerhouses.
“When the Chinese companies go outside of China, they will find that they fail to understand their competitors as well as they did when they were competing in China,” said Mr. Rieschel, founder of Qiming Ventures.
Of course, Chinese companies may just be happy staying home. With 400 million Internet users and growing, their own market is a substantial prize.
Chinese foreign policy
Not pointing or wagging but beckoning
Defensive and assertive in its words, China for the time being has a bark that is worse than its bite
Mar 18th 2010 | BEIJING | From The Economist print edition
“WE ARE opposed to the practice of engaging in mutual finger-pointing among countries,” said China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, on March 14th, resisting for the moment his own index-finger-wagging habit. Speaking at a news conference, Mr Wen was at pains to dismiss suggestions that Chinese foreign policy was becoming more assertive. Not all Chinese officials seem to have got the message. In their dealings with a stricken West, they appear conflicted.
“There are already views about China’s arrogance, China’s toughness, and China’s inevitable triumph. You have given me an opportunity for me to explain how China conducts itself,” said Mr Wen. The opportunity was a rare one. Mr Wen is the only Politburo member to hold regular press conferences, just once a year at the end of the brief annual rubber-stamping session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC). He has only two to go before he steps down in 2013.
Mr Wen’s soft-spoken, laboriously delivered remarks mixed recrimination and defensiveness, offering few clues as to how the government will reconcile its traditional low-key approach to international affairs with growing nationalism at home. He castigated President Barack Obama for meeting the Dalai Lama last month and in January approving arms sales to Taiwan worth $6.4 billion. These actions, he said, had “violated China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and had caused “serious disturbances” to the two countries’ relations. But he did not threaten any retaliation. Earlier warnings of sanctions against American companies selling weapons to Taiwan have yet to materialise.
In another swipe at America, Mr Wen said that attempting to boost exports by putting pressure on another country to appreciate its currency was a form of “trade protectionism”. Chinese officials anxiously await the American Treasury’s next twice-yearly report, due in April, on the currency policies of other countries. If it names China as a currency “manipulator”, trade tensions are likely to rise. Mr Wen said he was a “staunch supporter of free trade” and denied China’s currency, the yuan, was undervalued. He called for negotiations on a “win-win solution”. Despite China’s unyielding line on the yuan, some Western diplomats believe that the country will in fact allow it to appreciate in the coming months, though perhaps not by much. Foreign cajoling may not do the trick. But inflation might.
On some other Western worries there is also cautious optimism that pragmatism could prevail in Beijing. Mr Wen spent a long time at his press conference defending his record at the climate-change summit in Copenhagen in December, where China was widely accused of obduracy. He missed one leaders’ meeting, he said, because he had not received a proper invitation. But since then China has restated its commitment to achieving a 40-45% reduction in carbon emissions per unit of GDP by 2020 compared with 2005. Mr Wen’s report to the NPC called for an “industrial system and consumption pattern with low carbon emissions”. He did not even mention carbon in his report to the session a year ago. Deborah Seligsohn of the World Resources Institute, an American think-tank, says this year’s report showed a “clear and comprehensive” strategy for shifting China’s economy away from carbon-intensive sectors.
Western officials also remain hopeful that China will acquiesce to another round of sanctions on Iran in order to persuade it to give up its nuclear ambitions. Late last year relations between China and Britain were strained by China’s decision to ignore British pleas not to execute a British drug smuggler believed by his family to be mentally ill. But Britain’s foreign secretary, David Miliband, visited China this week for an upgraded “strategic dialogue” between the two countries, previously held at the deputy-minister level.
Mr Miliband’s Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi, said non-committally after their meeting that China had become “more concerned” about the Iranian problem, but that it needed to be resolved through negotiations. A recent report by the International Crisis Group, a think-tank, said that if other UN Security Council members unanimously supported more sanctions, China was likely to delay rather than block such a move. As previously, however, it would try to water the sanctions down. China is reluctant to jeopardise its big oil interests in Iran.
Western governments are clearly eager not to antagonise China, even if they chafe at its foot-dragging. British officials chose photo opportunities for Mr Miliband that would highlight China’s importance as a responsible world power, at a training facility near Beijing for UN peacekeepers, and a factory making solar panels. Privately, some Chinese officials warn of what could happen if the West becomes more confrontational. It could, says one, divide China and the West into “two worlds”, with “endless conflict” between them.
On its handling of dissent, however, China shows no sign of compromise. Western governments have been pressing it about the fate of a human-rights lawyer, Gao Zhisheng, who was taken from his home by security police a year ago. Mr Yang, at the press conference with Mr Miliband, said Mr Gao had been convicted of subversion. But it was not clear if he was referring to a suspended sentence imposed in 2006 (after torture, Mr Gao alleged). Mr Miliband said he was given no news of Mr Gao’s whereabouts. Western leaders, unnerved by Chinese finger-pointing, are at least used to the cold shoulder where human rights are concerned.