Mitläufer in the Caucus-Race: Google Helps Keep China Safe from the Indecency of Democracy; Intel to Help, Too.
Here are two news stories to be read side by side.
Xinhua (China): Central news websites back Internet self-censorship (via Rebecca MacKinnon & Imagethief)
BEIJING, April 11 (Xinhua) -- China's central news websites on Tuesday backed the proposal of major Beijing-based portals for self-censorship and the eradication of pornographic and violent Internet content.
In a joint announcement, 11 news websites vehemently supported the initiative, saying it represents the aspiration of China's Internet users.
"Chinese websites are capable and confident of resisting indecent Internet content," the announcement said.
The websites also vowed to play a leading role in self-censoring Internet content in compliance with the "Eight Honors and Disgraces", a new concept of socialist morality set forth by Hu Jintao, president and general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, recently.
"We will make the Internet a vital publisher of scientific theories, spread the advanced cultures and promote decency, so as to boost economic growth, maintain social stability, and promote the building of a socialist harmonious society," they pledged. . . .
"We are in a stern opposition to indecent on-line messages that undermine public morality and the culture and fine traditions of the Chinese people," the proposal acknowledged.
. . . and the New York Times: Google Chief Rejects Putting Pressure on China
BEIJING, April 12 — Google's chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, whose company has been sharply criticized for complying with Chinese censorship, said on Wednesday that the company had not lobbied to change the censorship laws and, for now, had no plans to do so.
"I think it's arrogant for us to walk into a country where we are just beginning operations and tell that country how to run itself," Mr. Schmidt told reporters from foreign news organizations.
Mr. Schmidt is visiting China this week to promote Google's new Chinese search engine and to meet with officials of government ministries. He announced the opening of a research and development center in Beijing's high-technology district and also introduced a Chinese-language brand name for the company's domestic search engine — Gu Ge, which roughly translates as "a harvesting song."
But in briefing sessions that involved both Chinese and foreign reporters, Mr. Schmidt faced questions about the censorship controversy that has involved Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco Systems.
At a Congressional hearing in February, executives from the four companies were criticized as collaborating with the Chinese government to silence dissidents. Google's Chinese search engine, introduced in January, blocks subjects restricted by the government, including searches for "Tibet" and "democracy."
On Wednesday, Mr. Schmidt defended the decision to cooperate with the censors, saying that accepting the restrictions of Chinese law were unavoidable for Google to enter the Chinese market. "We had a choice to enter the country and follow the law," Mr. Schmidt told the foreign reporters. "Or we had a choice not to enter the country."
Interestingly, Google Inc. is having a few issues with democracy of its own. From the San Jose Mercury News: Google shareholder wants two-tiered stock structure dismantled
A pension fund that owns 4,735 Google shares -- out of a total of 297 million -- filed a proposal Wednesday asking the Mountain View company to dismantle its two-class stock structure. That arrangement gives co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and Chief Executive Eric Schmidt control of Google.
But to pass, the measure would require the support of those from whom it wants to strip power -- Brin, Page and Schmidt hold nearly 70 percent of the voting control of the company. . . .
Google has two classes of stock. The class B shares held by the three executives count as 10 votes for every share, compared to one vote for every share of class A stock held by most other shareholders. The proposal will be voted on during Google's annual shareholder meeting on May 11.
As of March 17, Brin, Page and Schmidt owned 76.1 million shares of Google stock, almost all of it class B. The shares represented 25.6 percent of all shares outstanding, but gave them voting power worth 68.8 percent.
But returning to the matter at hand, Google's co-option into the Chinese censorship apparatus, I can't help but be astonished how easy it is for smart guys like Schmidt to be transformed into Mitläufer.
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Intel Corp. and Internet search engine Baidu.com have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop search applications for Intel platforms in a deal that could have important branding and technology implications for the two companies in China's high-stakes online market.
According to a press release issued by Baidu's (BIDU : 56.80, +1.22, +2.2% ) offices in Shanghai, the two companies will cooperate in developing search applications for laptops, handsets, personal computers, and other home appliances.
Baidu is basically viewed as a direct competitor to Google's (GOOG : 408.95, -0.71, -0.2% ) growing aspirations in China. The Shanghai-based startup is widely viewed as having a better search engine for Chinese text, however, its ability to search the international web pages lags behind Google. . . .
Intel spokesman Thomas M. Kilroy said the cooperation would "provide optimized search performance".
Um. Optimized for what?
I think it's time for a quote from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Chapter III - A Caucus-Race and a Long Tale
'Why,' said the Dodo, 'the best way to explain it is to do it.' (And, as you might like to try the thing yourself, some winter day, I will tell you how the Dodo managed it.)
First it marked out a race-course, in a sort of circle, (`the exact shape doesn't matter,' it said,) and then all the party were placed along the course, here and there. There was no `One, two, three, and away,' but they began running when they liked, and left off when they liked, so that it was not easy to know when the race was over. However, when they had been running half an hour or so, and were quite dry again, the Dodo suddenly called out `The race is over!' and they all crowded round it, panting, and asking, `But who has won?'
This question the Dodo could not answer without a great deal of thought, and it sat for a long time with one finger pressed upon its forehead (the position in which you usually see Shakespeare, in the pictures of him), while the rest waited in silence. At last the Dodo said, 'EVERYBODY has won, and all must have prizes.'
Ah, capitalism! As Richard at The Peking Duck remarks:
Now that China is (or at least seems to be) the place to go to get rich, this seems to be everyone's attitude. "Who are we to impose our cultural beliefs on another country...?" All such complex ethical issues dissolve in front of the one god worshipped by everyone, money.