TEXT OF INTERVIEW
Bill Radke Google may abandon its Chinese search engine — and leave the world’s fastest-growing market over concerns about censorship. According to the Financial Times today, Google is “99.9% certain” to shut down Google.cn. That’s the Chinese version of Google.com. Other outlets have confirmed that Google is exploring the departure. Marketplace’s Shanghai bureau chief Scott Tong joins us now live to explain why. Hello, Scott.
Scott Tong: Bill, good morning.
Radke: So, first of all, I’m curious, what would happen when a Chinese user goes to Google’s search engine?
Tong: Well, as far as we know, the search engine would just be gone from the Internet space. As you said, this is Google.cn, which is for the Chinese users, the largest market in the world. So if you go on that site now, here’s how it works: You type in, say a politically controversial word like Tiananmen Square or Tibet, fewer results come up on Google.cn. That’s how the censoring works. Now why would Google be voluntarily doing this? Well Google the company said when it came to China that even censored results for the public will gradually bring openness to China and Chinese people. Here’s Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a press conference in Beijing back in 2008.
ERIC SCHMIDT: Google intends to serve all the Chinese citizens as best we can. And we think we’ve done a good job. The growth of the Internet and the kinds of things that will be happening here bode very well for more communication, more openness. The direction is good.
Radke: OK, Scott. Google has since changed its mind on all that?
Tong: Well, that’s what it seems, and the Internet ecosystem is already preparing for that. The Chinese government has told Chinese Web sites to prepare for Google’s China site to close. Google employees are sending out their resumes. And a lot of companies that used to advertise on Google have bailed on the company and they’re advertising on other Web sites, Bill.
Radke: Marketplace’s China bureau chief Scott Tong. Thank you, Scott.
Tong: You’re welcome.