Google to stop censoring for Chinese (+ analysis); Haiti suffers worst earthquake in 200 years; Indonesia steps up pressure to stall ASEAN free trade; Afghan civilian death toll highest since 2001; and more
Top of the Agenda: Google to Stop Chinese Censoring
Google announced it will stop censoring its Chinese search site and may withdraw from the country completely, prompting concern from Chinese Internet users and praise from human rights activists. Students gathered at Google's Beijing and Shanghai offices with flowers to show support for the company, which has more than 40 million users in China. Google said (WSJ) they had uncovered massive cyberattacks by China against its network and other foreign companies. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Google's allegations "raise very serious concerns and questions. We look to the Chinese government for an explanation ... the ability to operate with confidence in cyberspace is critical in a modern society and economy." Google has impacted China's information technology sector since it entered the market in 2005, gaining a 35.6 percent share of the Chinese market. Shutting down Google's Chinese website could hamper investment in its Internet and telecommunications sector.
The only government response came from China's official news agency, Xinhua, which ran (NYT) a short item quoting an anonymous official who was "seeking more information on Google's statement that it could quit China". Rao Jin, the founder of the Web Forum anti-cnn.com, the company's announcement. He says Google made its decision under pressure from Clinton, who met with Google's chief executive last week as part of an effort to promote Internet freedom around the world.
In the New York Times, Thomas Friedman says it is short-sighted to overestimate China's problems and shortcomings since its political class is focused on addressing its most pressing issues.
In this CFR Podcast, Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project, discusses whether the Internet can bring democracy to China.
A CFR Backgrounder examines U.S. Internet providers and the "Great Firewall of China."
PACIFIC RIM: China Trade Pact
Indonesia wants (WSJ) China to renegotiate a free-trade pact between Southeast Asia and China that took effect this month because of local business concerns about unfair competition from low-cost Chinese imports.