By Eric Dutram of ETF Database
Google (BIDU - Get Report) set off a frenzy on Internet message boards and in the human rights community earlier this week when the search engine giant announced in a blog post that it had been the target of a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China" that was apparently carried out with the goal of accessing email accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
Google has repeatedly clashed with the Chinese government in the past, but the most recent incident appears to have pushed the relationship to a tipping point. Google announced that it is "no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn" and acknowledged the possibility of shutting down its site (and potentially office) in China.
The Chinese government responded, saying that it welcomed global Internet companies as long as they obey laws that restrict their content. "The Chinese government administers the Internet according to law and we have explicit stipulations over what content can be spread on the Internet," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu at a regular briefing in Beijing.The rigid statement seemingly shuts the door on the notion of allowing unfiltered Google results to appear in China and paves the way for the end of the company's Chinese site. "Google.cn is toast," said Duncan Clark, chairman of a telecommunications and Internet consulting company in Beijing in a Bloomberg article . "Just keep pressing refresh on your browser and see what happens." Known in Internet circles as "The Great Firewall of China," search results on Google.cn have historically been filtered to exclude any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan or the Falun Gong movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China.