from : 亞洲華爾街日報(工商時報2010-01-18)


By Jessica E. Vascellaro

 Google Inc.'s startling threat to withdraw from China was an intensely personal decision, drawing its celebrated founders and other top executives into a debate over the right way to confront the issues of censorship and cyber security.

 Google's very public response to what it called a "highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China" was crafted over a period of weeks, with heavy involvement from Google's co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

 For the two man, the China has always been a sensitive topic. Mr. Brin has long confided in friends and Google colleagues of his ambivalence in doing business in China, nothing that his early childhood in Russia exacerbated the moral dilemma of cooperating with government censorship, people who have spoken to him said. Over the years, Mr. Brin has served as Google's unofficial corporate conscience, the protector of its motto "Don't be Evil."

 The investigation into the cyber-intrusion began weeks ago, although how Google detected it remains unclear. As Google employees gathered more evidence they believed linked the attack to China and Chinese authorities,  Chief Executive Eric Schmidt, along with Messrs. Page and Brin began discussing how they should respond, entering into an intense debate over whether it was  better to stay in China and do what they can to change the regime from within, or whether to leave, according to people familiar with the discussions. A Google spokesman said Messrs. Page, Brin and Schmidt wouldn't comment.

 Mr. Schmidt made the argument he long has, according to these people, namely that it is moral to do business in China in a effort to try to open up the regime. Mr. Brin, strenuously argued the other side, namely that the company had done enough trying and that it could on longer justify censoring its search results.

 The three ultimately agreed they should disclose the attack publicly, trying to break with what they saw as a conspiratorial culture of companies keeping silent about attacks of his nature,  according to one person familiar with the matter.

 Soon, Google's vice president of public policy and communications, Rachel Whetstone, began crafting and revising a number of versions of a possible statement the company planned to release publicly, these people said, sharing it with the three.

 The top three agreed that in addition to discussing the attack, the blog post should contain some language about human rights, the strongest statement of which is a clause in the penultimate paragraph of the post.

 The section said they had reached the decision to re-evaluate their business in China after considering the attacks "combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web."

 Concerned about potential retribution against Google employees in China, the founders and their advisors pushed to include a line saying that the move was "driven by our executives in the United States, without the knowledge or involvement of our employees in China."

 A group of Google executives were told Monday of the plan to release the post on Tuesday, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

 To further protect Chinese employees on the ground, executives didn't notify the vast majority of Google's China team until a few minutes before the post went up.

 Disagreements among Google's to troika aren't unusual. Last year, for example, Mr. Schmidt told reporters that he had long opposed Mr. Page's desire to build a Web browser, but ultimately came around.

 Google's conduct in China has long incited broader geopolitical debate over whether Western companies should do business in the country. In 2006, after Google said it would censor its China search engine, Google was called to defend the move before the U.S. House of Representatives, which began contemplating legislation that would prohibit U.S. Companies from cooperating with Chinese officials, except in certain circumstances.

 Tuesday Google said it could no longer abide by Chinese government requirements that it filter the search results on its site in the country, Google.cn. The company said it will be discussing the matter with the Chinese government, stating that it realized that its move may mean that it will have to shut down the Web site and potentially its offices in China.

 Google's decision conflicts with the strategies of many U.S. companies to deepen their  involvement in China, which is both a key market for their potential exports as well as a source for many manufactured goods on which U.S. companies and consumers depend.

 Veteran observers of trade between the countries suggest that Google, and the U.S. Generally, has little leverage to press China to back down on Internet censorship or other issues.

 Besides the Google.cn Web site, China has a range of other business initiatives and partnerships in China that could be affected by its decision. By snubbing Chinese authorities so publicly, the company risks government retaliation against itself or its partners. The decision also affects local competitors who could benefit from any retreat.

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