A pedicab decorated with a Google ad banner navigates the streets of Beijing in November 2008.
It certainly did sound dramatic, the whole idea that execs at Google were throwing down the virtual gauntlet and threatening to pull out of China after clashing with the government over censorship, but it turns out that there hasn’t exactly been an uproar among the Chinese about the possibility of losing Google’s services. —KA
The online giant’s threat to pull out of China over censorship has drawn little reaction among the country’s 384 million Internet users. No flood of complaints to China’s consumer rights agency, like the tens of thousands received in one day when the online fantasy game “World of Warcraft” was yanked last year because of a bureaucratic turf battle. Nor has there been the type of fury that saw 32,000 indignant gamers participate in an online chat session on the “World of Warcraft.”
“If Google leaves China, we’ll lose one search engine. But we still have other choices,” said 28-year-old Deng Zhiluo, who works in marketing in Beijing. He said while Google’s search results are more “international,” most of what he wants can be found on Chinese competitor Baidu. “For locals, Baidu is enough.”
The indifference of many Chinese points to a telling challenge for Google in the world’s most populous Internet market. The Chinese Internet world is youthful, with people under 30 making up 61.5 percent of the online population, and Google’s cause isn’t generating popular support among China’s wired teens and 20-somethings.