After leaving China in 2010 over censorship disputes with the Chinese government, Google is planning a return to the mainland as early as this fall. According to The Information, the California-based Internet giant is seeking Chinese government approval to distribute a special China version of its Google Play app store that would block apps deemed objectionable by the government, much as Apple‘s App Store does currently. Andrew Cunningham at ArsTechnica reports:
Today The Information reports that Google is making plans to get a version of Google Play back into China and that it’s willing to work within Chinese censorship law to do it. The company “will follow local laws and block apps that the government deems objectionable” in the interest of regaining control over its own operating system. Google also wants to help Chinese developers distribute their apps outside of China and help international developers sell their apps within China.
The company wants to make the move to a Google-blessed version of Android attractive by offering “new incentives to phone makers to upgrade Android phones to the latest versions of the operating system,” though the exact incentives aren’t mentioned. Similar Google initiatives like the Android Update Alliance and Android One have fared poorly in other countries, so it’s not clear what Google can do in China to get different results.
[…] The Chinese market is where much of the growth in smartphone shipments is coming from these days, and while Android does well there, Google isn’t making any money from it. This move, which could happen “as early as this fall,” could give Google a foothold in the wider Android marketplace in China, though it will be an uphill battle against forks from companies like Xiaomi. [Source]
GreatFire.org interviews Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on Internet censorship in China and Wikipedia’s strategy to combat it:
Q: What is Wikipedia doing to combat censorship in China and elsewhere?
A: Wikipedia opposes censorship worldwide. We have a very firm policy, never breached, to never cooperate with government censorship in any region of the world. It is my view that access to knowledge – particularly factual encyclopedic knowledge of the kind put forth by Wikipedia – is a fundamental human right, a corollary to the right of freedom of speech.
I have personally worked to lobby governments around the world to change their policies. And the Wikipedia community has at times successfully gone on strike, turning Wikipedia black for a day in various languages, in order to protest against censorship.
[…] Q: What do you think is the future of internet censorship in China? Do you think we will ever seen a loosening of restrictions or will things only continue to get worse?
A: It greatly depends on the world reaction to what is happening in China. If the western world stops turning a blind eye on censorship in China and invoke pressure on the Chinese authorities to allow more freedoms, things will change positively. This is one of the things I am thriving to achieve through the Jimmy Wales Foundation. We all must take responsibility and raise our voice for change.
Q: If you sat down with China’s cyber czar (Lu Wei, the head of the Cyberspace Administration of China) what would you say to him?
A: The same thing I have said to his predecessor’s and to similar authorities in other countries around the world: you are on the wrong side of history. […] [Source]