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Earth-shattering news and a faked interview

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Chengdu Business News
January 14, 2009
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Global Times
January 14, 2010

Images of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on Tuesday made the front pages of many of China's newspapers today, but it was not the only major story that held the attention of mainland readers.

Under the headline "Huge Shock," Chengdu Business News paired the Haiti quake with Google's news that it may exit the Chinese marketplace, and the Global Times elected to devote its front page entirely to Google's threat, relegating Haiti to a headline down the right-hand side.

The Global Times' website, Huanqiu Online, conducted an online poll yesterday and summarized the results in an article tinged with surveillance-state paranoia:

Seven of ten netizens surveyed say government should not yield to Google

by Gao Youbin / Huanqiu Online

The news of the 13th that Google is threatening to leave the Chinese market became the subject of animated debate among many Chinese netizens. Some expressed regret at the possible pullout, while others worried about the resulting lack of competition in the Chinese marketplace. Still others welcomed Google's exit. In a poll conducted that day by Huanqiu Online, over half of netizens surveyed said that Google's pullout would not affect their Internet use at all. And approximately 70% said that the Chinese government should not accept any of Google's conditions.

Reportedly, Google gave two major reasons for leaving: first, it had encountered sophisticated attacks against its infrastructure originating in China; and second, it is no longer willing to accept censorship of its Google China website search results. As its conditions, Google said that over the next few weeks it would be engaging in discussions with the Chinese government about the possibility of operating an unfiltered search engine within the constraints of the law.

Because so many Internet users are directly connected to the search services Google provides, the news attracted attention and discussion among netizens. Huanqiu Online conducted an online poll that had received more than 10,000 responses as of 6:30pm. To the question, "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."

As for Google's statement, netizen opinion was divided. Some expressed regret at the possibility of a pullout, arguing that because Google's technology was relatively robust and advanced and it had minimal advertising, its exit would be inconvenient for some Chinese Internet users and would decrease competition in the marketplace, to the detriment of the development of the Chinese search engine market. But many welcomed Google's withdrawal. These netizens said that Google was not purely a commercial enterprise, but had many close ties with the US government. One netizen wrote, "It keeps saying that it's just a company, but it's always there at the vanguard of the US government's political games." "Google's exit from China seems more like an American government action. So many things have happened between the US and China recently....Iran, North Korea, arms sales to Taiwan, trade....more importantly, at the same time Google issued its blog post, (US Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton held a meeting with executives of major US Internet companies to prepare related legislation." Another netizen said that in the United States, Google was not just a search engine service company: it also provided data to the US government, particularly the military. In addition, many of the network security experts and technology professionals at the NSA came from Google and other major Internet companies, and even today, Google's servers are located in the United States. This netizen wrote, "That means that Chinese netizens' search records can be monitored by Google and the government agencies it is closely connected to."


Update: The Global Times print article seems to have misquoted the subject of a man-on-the-street interview to make him seem like he objects to Google's resistance to censorship:

The Global Times smeared me as a 50-center

by Yangzhe1990

Today I happened to notice the following in an article in the Global Times:

A computer science major at Tsinghua University surnamed Yang told the Global Times that after hearing about the news, he had ridden his bike straight over to the area around the Google building to seek information. He said, "I am worried about the effect on users like me if Google exits the China market. I am very worried that Gmail will be inaccessible. But if Google wants to evade censorship, that I cannot accept."

The malicious imposition of a point of view and a fictionalized conversation with a passer-by seriously harmed my reputation. The reporter did not conduct any interview with me at all, and I never accepted his interview. For an ordinary person to behave this way is unethical — how much more so for a journalist. The Global Times cannot be very trustworthy if it has reporters such as this. Anyone who knows me knows that I would never have said anything like that. And the use of "seek information" (打听消息) is really only suited to that reporter.

I actually biked to Google at 2:50 that afternoon. I had heard that people were placing flowers on the Google logo and I wanted to take a look. And as a student who had wanted to intern at Google and who had received an invitation, I went there to pay my respects as well.

When I arrived, I did not see any flowers, so I found someone to ask. That person turned out to be the Global Times reporter. What follows is our conversation (I do not recall all of the details, but this is the original shape of our dialogue):

Y: Why aren't there any flowers?
GT: They've taken them inside. You're quite well-informed.
Y: So can you still place flowers then?
GT: Oh, so you came expressly to ______? (I've forgotten what exactly was said)
Y: I'm close by, so I came to have a look.
GT: A student?
Y: Uh-huh.
GT: Security is fairly tight right now so you can't go in. They aren't letting anyone go upstairs.
Y: Non-employees were never able to go in unless they were taken by an employee.
GT: I don't know what things are like inside. Things look very unusual from the outside.
Y: Headquarters in the US has already cut them off, so they can't do any work inside. But Google has a lot of entertainment equipment. I've been in to see it. They're probably playing around in there, and you shouldn't be able to see anything unusual from the outside.
GT: Oh. What can I call you?
Y: ...
GT: May I have your name?
Y: Yang.
GT: Written with a wood radical?
Y: Correct.
GT: So. I'm a reporter with the Global Times. I'd like to include you in an article I'm writing. Or maybe one of your friends?
(I was taken aback for a moment)
Y: I don't think so.
GT: Or perhaps you can help me understand what things are like inside? You can share the fee...
Y: ...

I ignored him after that. The "computer major" bit in the article was purely his wild supposition. In actuality, I never said that I was a computer major, nor am I one. As for the line, "I am very worried that Gmail will be inaccessible," that was something I said to a TVB reporter. After I started ignoring him, I looked up to find a TVB camera trained on me, and I answered a few of their questions. They were far more professional, and they asked objective questions and never deliberately tried to embarrass me.

(I covered my face as soon as I saw the cameras)
Q: We're reporters from Hong Kong. This won't air on the mainland.
(I saw that it was TVB, which isn't too sensitive, so I didn't leave)
Q: Did you bike here expressly to see this?
A: I'm close by, and I came to have a look.
Q: Are you a Google user and supporter?
A: I'm a user.
Q: Reportedly, Google is going to leave because it does not support Internet censorship.....will Google leaving have any effects, do you think?
A: I don't think there will be much of a difference, because censorship is there anyway.
Q: Then how do you feel about Google leaving? Will it have any effect on you?
A: I'd worry that Gmail will be inaccessible.
(The inaccessibility of Gmail is distinct from Google servers being blocked. The same goes for blockage of G's other services — it can only get so bad. But this contest may result in the state requesting that all domestic email companies reject incoming email from Gmail because of XXX reason)
Q: Some netizens are saying that you can search for any content on Google right now.
A: I tried it, but it still says, "According to local laws and regulations..."

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There are currently 14 Comments for Earth-shattering news and a faked interview.

Comments on Earth-shattering news and a faked interview

天灾人祸,祸不单行。

All the data are forged. They have talent in this.

We already have a majority of Chinese starting to not support Google in this, and that is only counting netizens, AND the government hasn't even started any serious propaganda campaign yet.

If it comes to that, the government can get >95% of the people against Google here, they only have to show how E. Schmidt is close to Obama and the government, and undeniably pushes (part of) the US government agenda.

It is always the same story, initiatives for political change in China can be very good, but as long as they are perceived as foreign government interference, they have no future... Google is the hero today, but the result is likely to be bad for the Chinese.

五毛党!环球网隶属于环球时报,环球时报是人民日报的下属刊物。

China is a country, a great power, a huge population.

How dare an IT company like Google stir trouble like this with China.

Google - you are a bunch of idiots for outright publically pushing this out in the media, no doubt much to the joy of the American political puppets to use this in some way for other less apparent agendas...


Google - why dont you just pull out? would that not be the most moral thing to do? you redneck idiots need to wake up and realise that you NEED to work within each countries laws and not make demands, also EVER country has its spies/cyber-teams, why you would bring to light the chinese hacking events like this? simple... because the western world can just ask you for access based on Anti-terror laws, unfortunately the east dont have the same privileges so they have to resort to hacking.

I am changing my search engine from today to Bing and hope that Google is toppled by M$ soon!

To: A UK Citizen

Bing Sucks

Google played the situation very well but the fact is the whole thing is no more than a media stunt.

Apparently, Google will have greater gains politically and commercially compared to their potential losses. They cleverly USED media esp media in their most porfitable regions, US and Europe, to put a heoric drama which attracts not only attentions but great deal of supports from ill-informed audiences. Pulling out of China or not does not matter anymore, Google has got what it wanted.

Either way, Google wins. The only loser in this game is the Chinese people.

It hard to get accurate date out of this, since every other major internet portal in China has something to gain by getting google out. So they would manipulate public opinion on this. As for me, I would need to setup forwarding on gmail, so at least I'll be getting my emails...

Hey, "A UK Citizen":
Yes, work with and according to rules of other countries. An old British PM of yours, christened Neville, did that pretty well in the 1930s. So, that's your absolute rule: cooperate with all regimes, no matter how nefarious?
(No, I don't give a damn about Google. I'd be glad to see that company toppled. But, no, I hope not by Baidu. But I don't think Google is a bunch of idiots--else you wouldn't be calling them that--too successful, right?)

The Huanqiu article only identify the student by its family name Yang, which is a very common name. It wouldn't be surprising if there were more than one student from nearby Qinghua named Yang visiting Google that day. The conversation this student supposedly had with the Huanqiu reporter differs so much with the one published that it's questionable if Huanqiu was simply quoting some other person.

global times english edition is notorious for making up its 'man on the street' interviews. just look at some of the names they use. peter frenchman is one I remember.

wgj: The author of the post addresses that observation in the comment thread:

Posted by 某甲 on 01/14/2010 at 3:20 pm
你怎么知道环球说的就是你?既然你不是计算机系的,也许环球采访了另一个计算机系杨某?
How do you know that GT is talking about you? Since you're not a CS major, then maybe the GT interviewed a different Yang?

Posted by yangzhe1990 on 01/14/2010 at 3:29 pm
想一下就知道,这几天期末考试,那天没有考试的姓杨的计算机系学生。。屈指可数。更何况去google的,还能有谁。
Think about it a little. It's semester exam time. These days, the number of CS students named Yang who don't have exams is....very small. And who would have gone to Google?

Besides, the GT quote used the exact phrasing of an answer this Yang gave to TVB.

interesting BBC is reporting same sort of comments from China. It's hard to gauge what do netizens really think about it. Since it really depends on which forum to visit, which KDS noticeably for google, and drangonsky noticeably against and tianya split down the middle.

pls make clear it's Huan Qiu Shi Bao, or Global Times Chinese edition, and don't mess with the English edition. thanks.

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