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Google, China continue to duke it out

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Steve Chiotakis: Internet searchers in China using Google are being re-directed to the company’s Hong Kong site instead of its “dot-cn,” or Chinese site today. It’s all part of a months-long battle between Google and China over censorship and supposed hacking issues. Chinese government officials responded quickly and angrily today A Chinese Internet regulator said that Google’s decision violated a written promise to the government. Many worry that this could further restrict Internet access in the communist country. Kaiser Kuo is an independent technology consultant in China. He joins us now from Beijing. Thanks for being here today.

Kaiser Kuo: Thank you very much, Steve.

Chiotakis: So what kind of effect is this going to have on Internet users inside China?

Kuo: I don’t think that there’s much of a real effect. I think that the effect is primarily psychological. Google, unlike a lot of other American Internet brands, has come to represent China as part of a global Internet. And I think that people are being made aware of the extent to which censorship has sort of cut them off from the rest of the world in some sense.

Chiotakis: Your own gut feeling, Kaiser, is Google able you think to sort of sit out and say, well you know, a billion plus Chinese, we’re going to stick to our principles on this one?

Kuo: I don’t think that that’s what they’re doing. I think that they’re not compromising on the principle of Internet censorship here, but there’s a lot of other pieces of Google’s business in China that they are fighting hard to preserve. Like the real holy grail I think is in mobile actually and not fixed-line PC Internet. And they’re tryign to keep that alive, that part of the business alive, in China.

Chiotakis: Hey, is this story more about Chiense freedom, or is this about, you know, the growth of this big American company Google?

Kuo: I think that this story has been cast as one all about Chinese Internet freedom. I don’t think that it’s to be, you know, dismissed as something about pure business story. There’s obviously a lot of ideology mixed up into this.

Chiotakis: Kaiser Kuo, independent technology consultant in Beijing, we thank you for your time.

Kuo: Thank you very much, Steve.

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