Op-eds in prominent newspapers around the world are discussing profusely the latest decision by Google to disengage from China in a move that epitomizes the search engine’s level of camaraderie with communist censors.
While few viewpoints offer a holistic examination of a complex issue that goes beyond the business sphere, the majority applaud Google’s shift as salutary to enhancing democracy in the Asian country.
The query nowadays in the western hemisphere is whether China can live without Google.
Many respond by the negative, citing, among others, the infancy of the country’s technology infrastructure and its limited number of qualified engineers; some even posit metaphorically that Beijing will be “in the darkness” after such exit.
Truth be told, China needs Google far less than the opposite. Hence, to the inverse question – can Google live without China? – the reasonable answer becomes yes.
Strategically, there is a superfluity of arguments attesting that the Mountain View, California-based technology mammoth is following the wrong path in handling its Chinese conundrum. Some of these arguments are specifically endogenous to the firm, whereas others are more varied in nature and closely inherent to the macro-environment in which the firm evolves.
Google does not divulge the size nor the profitability of its China business but it can be inferred, from the country ca. 400 million internet users, that Google.cn – its local portal – contributes a hefty part of the overall bottom line.
Gauging the firm’s scope of business in Mao’s republic implies factoring not only core search revenues but also the ancillary business derived from joint-ventures in Asia and Google’s own commercial undertakings.
The firm cannot ignore the potential cash-cow that Chinese internet users represent and the competitive pre-eminence that a local presence can proffer. The recent announcement from Google to move its local servers from the mainland to Hong Kong and...