From the Los Angeles Times, "Google may leave China in wake of hacker attacks: The Internet firm says it will stop the scorned practice of censoring users' search results":
In a rare corporate rebuke of Asia's economic superpower, Google Inc. on Tuesday said it might leave China and the country's 350 million Internet users after it was the victim of a series of cyber attacks that originated from that nation.More at the link, but make sure you read the initial Google blog post, "A New Approach to China." Also, the politicization has begun, from James Fallows, "The Google News: China Enters its Bush-Cheney Era." (Via Memeorandum.) You'll have to read Fallows all the way down to get the meaning of his "Bush-Cheney" jibe, although he's an Asia expert, and his argument here is fairly reasonable:
According to Google, a "highly sophisticated" December attack on its main corporate computers resulted in "the theft of intellectual property."
The company said it believed that a key goal of the attackers was to access the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, raising the possibility that China's government not only may have hacked in to Google but also may have been using the company's network to conduct political espionage.
"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered -- combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the Web -- have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China," said Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, in a blog post titled "A new approach to China."
As part of the review, Google said it planned to end its practice of censoring search results in China. For years, Google has acquiesced to Chinese officials' wishes by blocking access to information on politically sensitive topics such as the 1989 student uprising in Tiananmen Square.
The company said that over the next several weeks it would try to find a way to operate an uncensored search engine in China, if Chinese authorities approved.
If not, Google said it might pull the plug on its operations there.
I have long argued that China's relations with the U.S. are overall positive for both sides (here and here) ....Again, RTWT for the full argument. I'm please Google's taking a hard line. China's probably more of a threat than Fallows allows, and it's actions are certainly not those of a trusted partner in a mutually interdependent economic and security relationship.
But there are also reasons to think that a difficult and unpleasant stage of China-U.S. and China-world relations lies ahead. This is so on the economic front, as warned about here nearly a year ago with later evidence here. It may prove to be so on the environmental front -- that is what the argument over China's role in Copenhagen is about. It is increasingly so on the political-liberties front, as witness Vaclav Havel's denunciation of the recent 11-year prison sentence for the man who is in many ways his Chinese counterpart, Liu Xiaobo. And if a major U.S. company -- indeed, Google has been ranked the #1 brand in the world -- has concluded that, in effect, it must break diplomatic relations with China because its policies are too repressive and intrusive to make peace with, that is a significant judgment.