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> Google operated in China several years ago, but it withdrew from the market because of the censorship requirements from the government

Google hesitated to enter China because of the censorship requirements (1) but eventually entered anyway, led by a researcher they hired away from Microsoft, Kai-Fu Lee (1, 2). They exited because they caught the Chinese associates stealing source code, and only after their first "war room" effort to nail down exactly what was going on (1, 3).

(1) https://www.amazon.com/Plex-Google-Thinks-Works-Shapes/dp/14...

(2) https://www.cio.com/article/2425034/head-of-google-china-lea...

(3) https://techcrunch.com/2010/01/12/google-china-attacks/

Thanks for bringing these references up. However, I think the major reason is still censorship or too much censorship & political dissent. The aim of stealing source code is probably to hack the account of political dissents as Google pointed out. The action was more about "the political motivation related to dissent" than "against US economy". That's my main point.


Brin: I don't think it's a question of taking on China. In fact, I am a great admirer of both China and the Chinese government for the progress they have made. It is really opposing censorship and speaking out for the freedom of political dissent, and that's the key issue from our side.

SPIEGEL: Four years ago, you allowed your service to be censored. Why have you changed your mind now?

Brin: The hacking attacks were the straw that broke the camel's back. There were several aspects there: the attack directly on Google, which we believe was an attempt to gain access to Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. But there is also a broader pattern we then discovered of simply the surveillance of human rights activists.

"Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. "

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