Google’s Challenges in China

We all know that Google is one of the largest multinational companies and the most widely used search engine all over the world. Around 86% of people prefer to use the Google search engine for researches. It handles more than 5 billion searches each day. But there are still a few countries that don’t use Google services. Do you know the name of those countries? They are China, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, and Syria. China is the only country which has banned all the services including YouTube, Gmail, Google search engine, and almost all other products. China has very strict censorship policies, so no one can access Google in China.

Google in China

In the year 2000, Google started to provide search services to Chinese users worldwide. Later in 2006, simplified Chinese news was renamed to Google information. It offered 24 million WebPages in Chinese language and gained popularity. Google progressed slowly and steadily and became the leading search engine in the Chinese market. It lost its market share after a couple of years. Internet content in china was heavily censored due to which people faced problems and delays. By this time, Chinese search Engine Company “Baidu” emerged as the leading search engine company in China. Baidu’s search technology for the Chinese language was far superior to Google. To compete with Baidu, Google was forced to censor its content according to the standards set by the Chinese government and decided to launch its Chinese website

Why Google was shut down in China?

Censorship was the reason why Google shut down its operations in China. The Chinese government and the regulations in the internet market had an adverse effect on Google’s operation in China. In March 2009, the Chinese government blocked access to YouTube (One of Google’s service) due to footage of Chinese security forces. After this, they also stopped the access to the other Google services as they were not happy with Google’s censoring. Google discovered a cyber attack from within the country. During the investigation, Google found that many Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists had been hacked. China’s government denied any state of involvement in cyber attacks In January 2010; Google decided that it will no longer censor its search in china and closed the door on one of the largest markets in the world.

Criticism from US government

Google’s problem in china was multi-faceted. They faced criticism from the US government and Americans for their decision to enter China. Americans were unhappy with Google as they were cooperating with Chinese censorship.

Dragonfly project

This project was a secret project to build a censored search engine for the Chinese market, which was ended in December 2018. They aimed to build a search engine that would have linked user’s searches to their personal phone numbers and making it harder to avoid official surveillance. The search engine would have been required to censor certain search terms. This project would have offered china a search engine that blocked results of the sensitive political topics like Xinjiang, Tibet, and the Tiananmen square massacre which are already censored in the current search engines of the china. The public came to know about this project in august 2018, when The Intercept leaked an internal memo which was written by a Google employee after which it was shut down. However, some say that it still continued till March 2019 with only a few people involved in it. Later in July 2019 Google announce that work on the project Dragonfly is terminated. The project was harshly criticized from Google employees and users. Nearly 1400 Google employees signed a letter demanding more transparency about dragonfly and highlighting the human rights abuses. Google would have become complicit if Dragonfly was launched.
Today Google does not have a website in mainland China. They redirected all Chinese users to their Hong Kong uncensored website. Still, if people want to use Google services, they do it by using a VPN. Google is planning re-entry in China as it is attracted to china’s large economy and massive internet user market that could potentially lead to huge profits. For this, they are hiring people for dozens of positions. It is working towards an agreement to offer an app store for Android devices that would include only government-approved apps.