Decrypting the Google statement

There have been many articles saying that Google is pulling out China. Well, that’s not exactly what Google said.

Here is exactly what Google stated:

We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down, and potentially our offices in China.

Google is not leaving China. At least not yet.

Look at what was actually said:

1) Google is not willing want to censor, so Google will 2) engage in discussion with the Chinese government and, 3) in order to operate an uncensored search engine within the law.

Law is the key word here. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Jiang Wu, stated:

China welcomes international Internet companies to conduct business within the country according to law

The question is, what law says that Google cannot index the web site of the BBC news? Anyone know?

In 2006 when Google started censoring in China I asked:

What specific law or court order is being complied with in China?

It is 2010, still no answer.

I think it is a reasonable question for Google to ask.


  1. Thanks for continuing to be a voice of reason on all this!

  2. Google has offered staff in its Beijing office a redundancy settlement at one year’s salary for every year worked, plus an extra two years for good measure. THey’re closing the office, that’s certain.

    But yes, while physically leaving China, they’re still sure to run a Chinese language version of Google, and continue to index in Chinese, so they’re not leaving in spirit.

    Agree on the law point, as censorship is an extremely shaky concept in Chinese law. Also, the remarks Jiang Wu also included the statement that hacking is illegal in China; the CPC are not subject to Chinese law, they’re extra-judicial.

    I did enjoy this recent post by Rebecca MacKinnon

  3. […] | Obama Deception | Endgame | MïñЧ 鴐 †v … Posted by iamthatiam at 14:53 Nart Villeneuve — Decrypting the Google statement We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on, and so […]

  4. I think it’s a very reasonable question for Google to ask… I just can’t see the Chinese government answering it!
    It’s going to be interesting to see how long the Chinese government can get away with ad hoc pronouncements of rules rather than legal process to create laws.

  5. […] Nart Villeneuve — Decrypting the Google statement […]

  6. Is the relevant law really that difficult to decipher?

    Refer specifically to paragraph 15. Of course, you can argue whether BBC content should be uniformly classified as “damaging national interests”… but as far as this blog goes, it would be a rhetorical argument, not a legal one.

    If you instead want to make a legal argument, go file a case on behalf of the BBC (or Google).

    In the mean time, don’t take advantage of the lack of Chinese literacy amongst your readers by suggesting that no possible legal basis exists.

  7. @CC Yes, there are a variety of regulations that apply to Internet content generally, the prohibited content includes:

    (1) violating the basic principles as they are confirmed in the Constitution;
    (2) jeopardizing the security of the nation, divulging state secrets, subverting of the national regime or jeopardizing the integrity of the nation’s unity;
    (3) harming the honor or the interests of the nation;
    (4) inciting hatred against peoples, racism against peoples, or disrupting the solidarity of peoples;
    (5) disrupting national policies on religion, propagating evil cults and feudal superstitions;
    (6) spreading rumors, disturbing social order, or disrupting social stability;
    (7) spreading obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, terror, or abetting the commission of a crime;
    (8) insulting or defaming third parties, infringing on the legal rights and interests of third parties;
    (9) inciting illegal assemblies, associations, marches, demonstrations, or gatherings that disturb social order;
    (10) conducting activities in the name of an illegal civil organization; and
    (11) any other content prohibited by law or rules.

    (translation at

    (also see ONI

    The question is when Google removes BBC news which one is it? It it a formal, written notification? Is there are court or venue in which such requests can be disputed? Is Google left to decide the exact content to censor based on the general guidance above? Is it the BBC generally or just some specific articles? If so, which ones? I mean, seriously, are you telling me that are article about Arsenal losing ( is a threat to China’s national security? What specific legal order can Google post and link to on for content removed from as they do with every other country in the world?

    Sorry, but a general “national security” justification without a shred of detail is insufficient for censorship just as it is for surveillance in the US

  8. I feel good about the decision taken by Google to stop cencoring the search results. Afterall, how long the Chinese government wishes to play the moral guardian of majorty of the population. I think, the Chinese population for once should get a chance to grow up and decide for themsleves which search result they want and which is irrelevant to them.

Post a comment.