Google’s Brin Talks About China Gamble

Google co-founder Sergey Brin talks to the Wall Street Journal about the decision to stop censorship of Google’s China search engine:

The beginning of that change came just after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mr. Brin says in an interview about the China decision. As the glow of the Olympics faded, he says, the Chinese government began ratcheting up its Web censoring and interfering more with Google’s business. Around that time, he says, the murky rules of doing business in China grew even murkier.

“China was ever-present,” he says. “One out of five meetings I attended had some component that applied to China in a different way than other countries.”

The 36-year-old co-founder says he was also moved by growing evidence in China of repressive behavior he remembered from the Soviet Union, which he and his parents fled when he was six years old. He says memories of that time—having his home visited by Russian police; the anti-Semitic discrimination against his father—emboldened his view that it was time to abandon Google’s policy.

China has “made great strides against poverty and whatnot,” Mr. Brin says. “But nevertheless, in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling.”

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