A strange incident a few days ago made it appear that Google had stopped censoring some search results on its China site. (A search for the ’89 student movement revealed photos of tanks and protests, which normally aren’t available).These search results are now being censored again, but this move led us to speculate that Google was trying to get tossed out of China rather than simply withdrawing in a huff.
Getting tossed out looks better, because it makes the Chinese government the bad guys and insulates Google from complaints by shareholders, employees, and partners.
Along these lines, Google’s partners in China have now issued a formal complaint, demanding that Google update them on its plans and compensate them if it pulls out. (WSJ $)
Google made a tactical error when it issued a black-and-white proclamation that it would no longer censor its search results in retaliation for China’s hacking attack. The company now appears to be trying to correct at least part of this mistake by making China look like the aggressor.