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This is a simplistic view. When push comes to shove, companies don't behave with political principles. Apple is not going to throw away access to 1/6 of world's population over a political dispute. It's unrealistic to expect any company to, if they're sufficiently large. The only way to achieve political goals is to apply political pressure directly at the state level, or to work with domestic movements that seek to undermine the policies in question.



"What does it benefit to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?" - Jesus


Most famously quoted in the play "A Man for all Seasons"

"It profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales?"

Thomas More is convicted and will be executed, on the false evidence of a man who he now sees is wearing a chain of office, he asks to see the chain (thereby establishing for the audience what the reward was for lying to secure More's conviction). The chain is for the Attorney General for Wales, prompting this line.

In reality Richard Rich was given a slightly different job with a longer title that doesn't afford such a fun line and of course we can't prove he got it for his deceits, though he does seem like he wasn't on the whole a truthful and upstanding person.


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In that framework you are giving up something of infinite value for something of finite value, which is irrational.


I suspect the OP disagrees that souls have infinite value, because they do not exist.


The big point is to not give up something of greater value for lesser value. Human rights have greater value than increasing profit margins.


Google did.

Yea they want to head back (now that they realize nobody cared), but they pulled out of China entirely back in 2011 over censorship.


They were also hacked by the Chinese. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Aurora


That was the public reason but i’ve also heard they simply could’t compete and decided to use that excuse to save face.


by couldn't compete, i assume you mean, "didn't want to hand over all their IP to CCP, who would in turn give it to the native competitor", right?


No by couldn't compete, the OP probably means western tech companies do a remarkably poor job of understanding the Chinese market and frequently gets out innovated. When Google first entered the Chinese market, Google PinYin input lifted data from Sogou Pinyin because they couldn't get basic input prediction right. Baidu RankDex predates Google PageRank and was referenced by Larry Page when he submitted patent for PageRank. Before Youtube left China, they were the worlds top video streaming site, in China they didn't even break top 10. Same story for Twitter. Amazon today is unimpressive compared to major Chinese online retailers.

The truth is, these companies were never competitive in China because they never put in the work. Established western companies are not use to the level of competition in China. It's simplistic to say CCP is just arbitrarily picking domestic winners. Thousands of domestic companies (as in the case with ecommerce going toe-to-toe with Amazon) were busy out competing each other and western challengers. When it came to western social media bans post 2007, Chinese companies were hiring tens of thousands of content moderators with understanding of Chinese filtering rules for compliance. Western companies simply gave up and didn't learn how to scale content moderation until the last few years when social media had to deal with the same violent extremism that China did during the Tibetan and XinJiang riots that lead to FB/Twitter ban. As evidenced by current Youtube debacles, Google still can't / refuse to get human content control right. BTW both these companies can reenter anytime as long as they conform the same rules like Bing. Regardless, the government didn't have to tip the scale much to crown a domestic champion over western companies.

See AI Superpowers by Lee Fu Lee,previous head of Google.cn for an overview of Chinese competitive environments. There's lots of extremely technical fields where China is actively conducting industrial espionage and coercing tech transfers in (IC, airplane engines, military stuff). But cloning and improving software is not really one of them.


> When it came to western social media bans post 2007, Chinese companies were hiring tens of thousands of content moderators with understanding of Chinese filtering rules for compliance. Western companies simply gave up and didn't learn how to scale content moderation until the last few years when social media had to deal with the same violent extremism that China did during the Tibetan and XinJiang riots that lead to FB/Twitter ban.

I will gladly agree that Chinese companies have a competitive advantage over Western companies in terms of enforcing state-mandated censorship. I hope Western companies never get comfortable with that particular competency.


He seems so proud of it


Explaining is not endorsement.


> Western companies simply gave up and didn't learn how to scale content moderation until the last few years when social media had to deal with the same violent extremism that China did during the Tibetan and XinJiang riots that lead to FB/Twitter ban. As evidenced by current Youtube debacles, Google still can't / refuse to get human content control right.

First of all, I don't want them to do "human content control". That is stupid.

I will happily concede that China is better at nightmarish Orwellian censorship policies, congratulations, big accomplishment. I hope America never catches up.

How uncivilized must China be, if they need an army of censors to edit what everyone says? Americans have gotten along well without that. Based on how Chinese government treats its people, you must conclude that Chinese people are monsters that are constantly plotting violence. I choose to believe that the Chinese government is just too authoritarian and controlling.

Any American corporation that kowtows to the Chinese government's demands has nothing to be proud of.

It should be illegal for American companies to facilitate the evil that the PRC government commits. I don't want Google making money sending ethnic minorities to "re-education" camps.


The reality that is western social media has been increasingly censorial in the last couple years on a range of issues, particularly extremism, validating the Chinese approach which any reasonable evaluation would conclude has been prescient in retrospect. Arab Spring, Jasmine Revolution, Rohingya genocide, Hindu nationalist slayings, mass shootings, that is cost of exporting unfettered social media that I also enjoy. Contrary to your assessment of my sentiment, I am perfectly happy with unrestrained freespeech, 4/8chan etc at the cost of occasional mass casualty incidents that I think would be better addressed via responsible MSM conduct.

But the fact remains, the Chinese model promises political serenity (i.e. recent revelation of TikTok guidelines against divisive politics) which is valued in unstable countries without strong institutions, and those countries are by far the majority out the ~200 countries around the world. You many not like it, but calls for Social media accountability is obviously also happening all across western liberal democracies, including the US. People are screaming for more censorship. Techniques are converging and the only reason IMO the west can't match Chinese mechanical turk censoring is labour costs, but I surmise gig economy will eventually figure out a way to source the headcount.

This is a hard pill to swallow for western minds that hedges softpower on moral superiority. Many westerners refuse to accept that the CPC is modelling it's evil development method after what has been successful in the west, i.e. all the industrial espionage and protectionism, even the current Uyghur situation (which I do not endorse) is result of 2nd generation ethnic policy directly based off US melting pot concept and not far from indigenous residential school systems that emphasis integration. Previously it was based on autonomous soviet oblasts that tried to make distinct ethnic identities work - salad bowl - that has failed after riots and terrorism caused by unrestrained western social media (hence the bans). China will happily copy outdated, evil strategies employed by the west if it provides serenity, don't be surprised when the west copies fresh, evil Chinese innovations to address their social ills as well.


I am really only concerned about these issues as they affect my country, The United States.

Different nations have different ways of doing things. The policies that they have in China might indeed be the best thing for them. But the only time I care is when American corporations start trying to do that.

I can not disagree about the Uyghur question. The melting pot policy is stupid and must end anyway because it will fail, as we are seeing in Europe. Hopefully it will burn itself out before too much damage is done. I actually feel guilty that these stupid immigration/integration concepts have been exported to other countries.

Calls within the United States for censorship are just flimsy pretexts for consolidation of power, and actually I think are less sincere than Chinese efforts for harmony. Mass shootings and other evils would not be significantly hampered by censorship. People saying that the internet has caused the rise of extremist terrorism are absolutely wrong. Just the last few weeks they kept going on and on about chaos that would happen from the Joker movie. It is nonsense. It is very hard to connect things said on the Internet to any real world deaths here. But I can see how in less stable countries, rumors and misinformation could lead to real problems. Maybe in a place like Indonesia or The Philippines they should censor misinformation, when there is a very real chance of conflict breaking out.


Yes, I think different countries require different solutions during different stages of development and threat. US media environment and online culture does magnify and sensationalize statistically insignificant threats. I like to think we have a slightly healthier media environment in Canada, but people here seems irritatingly OK with censorship as well. Aat the end of the day, it's up to the west who values things like freedom of speech to produce a working alternative for the world to emulate. But given how things are going, I don't see anything forth coming. It's crazy how society is shaped by .01% of self-selected active online participants. I was hoping divisive culture war is just part of the growing pains of first wave of ubiquitous inter-connectivity, that people will get fatigued and adjust their behaviors eventually, a regression to mean of common decency. But it's been years and it looks like eternal September really is eternal.


Baidu would certainly like to think so, and has said as much on occasion, but do the facts really support the claim that Google left China primarily due to competition rather than ethical or security concerns?

Despite continuous friction with the Chinese government, Google's share of the search engine market in China had grown to over a third before it decided to pull out: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703465204575207...

Google hasn't pulled out of other markets where it faces strong local competitors, such as Yandex in Russia, and it remains popular in Chinese-speaking markets outside of mainland China such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. That the developers of the Google Pinyin input tool were found to have copied data (something other companies in and out of China have also been guilty of from time to time) is hardly evidence that Google in general was not competitive.

Ironically, the fact that under Pichai a return to China was seriously contemplated would suggest that financial reasons alone can't explain the original decision to leave.

Similarly, YouTube wasn't forced to pull out of other markets where it faced competition. Also, YouTube was frequently blocked by Chinese authorities even before Google decided to pull out: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703465204575207...

Competition may explain in part why Google hadn't conquered the Chinese market before it left, but conflict with the Chinese government, in the form of official censorship as well as illicit hacking, would seem to be the main reason why Google pulled out of China but not elsewhere.

Unless of course learning to comply with such demands and intrusions is included under "understanding the Chinese market".


Too late to edit, but the correct URL for the second link is: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/mar/25/china-blocks-y...


I don't buy the story that Google left abruptly because they simply "couldn't compete". This is a huge and deep-pocketed corporation that out-rivals Microsoft in all aspects but yet, Bing could stick it out and Google couldn't?


That in itself is not a counter-claim to his arguments.

That being said, many companies fail to establish a foot-hold in certain international markets, including Yelp, Uber (which ceded southeast Asia to Grab, and China to Didi). Even Amazon does poorly internationally, and that's headed by the richest man on earth (which by your logic implies that it's impossible for Amazon not be able to dominate)[1].

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/955796/global-amazon-e-c...


this looks like a good read, thanks for the rec




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