Like I’ve mentioned before, I believe the censorship and human rights dimensions of Google’s pull-out argument is largely smoke-screen done in an effort to make-up with Western audiences in regards to their controversial 2006 decision to base their servers on the Mainland.
What I don’t think is being discussed enough in media is the simple notion that Google was hacked…apparently numerous times and that some of these attacks were directed toward their source code. Severs with Google’s secretive source code and other internet tech secrets based in the backyard of the world’s largest internet police and patriotic hacking community is not an ideal situation.
While Google’s main argument is very palatable to the Western community, I fear that it could be a really bad move in terms of drumming up support in China. The CCP has shown again and again that they are the master of PR spin in their playground.
While Google does have it’s supports in China, it looks like a lot of netizens are not too pleased with the censorship dimension of Google’s argument. From danwei.org (keep in mind that it is a net poll).
"Will Google’s exit from China affect your use of the Internet?" more than half of respondents, 55.6% (9,767), selected "no," while the remaining 45% (7,801) said "yes.’ In response to the second question, "Which search tool do you use most frequently," 73.2% (12,901) of respondents said Baidu and 23.6% (4,153) said Google, which may be the reason that over half of respondents said that Google’s exit will not affect their use of the Internet. The remaining 5% selected Tencent and four other search engines. In response to the third question, "Do you think that the Chinese government should accept Google’s conditions," 70.4% (1,449) selected "no, they shouldn’t," while 29.6% (610) selected "yes, they should."
The CCP PR spin wizards haven’t even jumped into the fray yet either.
Personally, I think Google should be focusing on their depth and frequency of the hack attacks. You can’t wind domestic Chinese support (which they need more than international support) by stroking human rights and censorship. I’ve noticed that entities involved in cyber-crime such as Infowar Monitor (the fellows who uncovered GhostNet) are always wary of directly pointing the finger at the CCP/PLA which is widely believed to offer support (in some capacity) to numerous malicious activities directed at companies and governments around the world. They choose instead to be rather ambiguous with claims that the attack originated ‘somewhere’ in China. Google seems to have put it all on the line, and if this does turn into a nasty PR storm then it could be an opportune time for someone to make a full disclosure regarding the exact origins of such attacks. You’ve come this far, and if the CCP PR machinery gets up too speed, you might as well go all the way. Go big or go home.
Organ Grinder with monkey: “Ah Google, go for the face!”
I’m not sure the netizens in China are aware of the bad PR they receive abroad in regards to cyber-crime. Substantiated or not, this reputation is beginning to stick and doesn’t bone to well for a country dreams of IT and tech glory. I would imagine too that it is harder to defend cyber-crime that it is too defend local human rights and censorship laws. If there is one thing that really irks China and creates a great PR opportunity, it is continual lecturing and scolding about human rights.