On one hand, it certainly seems laudable in that there seems to be an actual understanding of the criticisms at hand here over at Google. On the other hand, it’s about as internally contradicting as one would expect, given the hypocrisy of Google’s position — for example, a sentence reading “Launching a Google domain that restricts information in any way isn’t a step we took lightly” is followed a few paragraphs later with acknowledgment of the fact that Google’s French, German and American services also censor information.
Here’s a particularly interesting bit of wishful thinking on Google’s part:
Obviously, the situation in China is far different than it is in those other countries; while China has made great strides in the past decades, it remains in many ways closed. 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.
Unfortunately, we’re not entirely as optimistic that instant capitulation to a government’s censorship policy is going to lead to a revolutionary, information-free wonderland in China’s near future. If such a society is in China’s future, it certainly won’t have anything to do with Google’s pandering to censorship, but with the resolve of the Chinese people to change the way their government operates. And the most likely way they are going to start wanting to do that is by being exposed to uncensored information about other viewpoints – information Google is not providing. It’s too bad Google didn’t aim their ingenuity at some way for Chinese people to more reliably visit their other, non-Chinese domains instead.