Google soul searches on China

After being criticized for three days over the launch of its censored search site in China, Google officially responded on Friday, saying it had to compromise its mission in order to make its services available at all in China.

"Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn't a step we took lightly. For several years, we've debated whether entering the Chinese market at this point in history could be consistent with our mission and values," Andrew McLaughlin, senior policy counsel, wrote in a posting on the Google Blog.

Google.com appears to be down about 10 percent of the time in China, is slow when it is accessible and stalls out the browser when results are clicked on, he said. Google News is never available there and Google image search is only accessible half the time, he added.

"This problem could only be resolved by creating a local presence," McLaughlin wrote. "We know that many people are upset about this decision, and frankly, we understand their point of view. This wasn't an easy choice, but in the end, we believe the course of action we've chosen will prove to be the right one."

"Filtering our search results clearly compromises our mission. Failing to offer Google search at all to a fifth of the world's population, however, does so far more severely," he continued.

"We aren't happy about what we had to do this week, and we hope that over time everyone in the world will come to enjoy full access to information. But how is that full access most likely to be achieved? We are convinced that the Internet, and its continued development through the efforts of companies like Google, will effectively contribute to openness and prosperity in the world. Our continued engagement with China is the best (perhaps only) way for Google to help bring the tremendous benefits of universal information access to all our users there," he wrote.

By engaging in and working with China, Google hopes to foster positive change there, according to McLaughlin.

"In the years to come, we'll be making significant and growing investments in China. Our launch of google.cn, though filtered, is a necessary first step toward achieving a productive presence in a rapidly changing country that will be one of the world's most important and dynamic for decades to come. To some people, a hard compromise may not feel as satisfying as a withdrawal on principle, but we believe it's the best way to work toward the results we all desire."

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