Google has not been operating in China for some time. The main cause is the censorship that the Chinese government applies to the results of the US search engine. There are many websites that can not be visited in and around Beijing: from the main social networks to online versions of major international newspapers such as the New York Times or Le Monde. Even platforms such as Youtube and Vimeo are in no way accessible to Chinese consumers as well as work tools like Dropbox and Shutterstock. In a reality like the Chinese one, therefore, a search engine that shows results to sites that are not accessible is basically useless. But Google, according to some documents obtained from theintercept.com, would be ready to give up some freedom of information in exchange for the huge profits that the Chinese market could bring.
The operation, called Dragon Fly, provides that Google is in a self-censorship process, not showing some results that for the Chinese government are considered “sensitive”. The creation of an ad hoc app for China has been going on since the spring of 2017 and the meetings between Google CEO Sundar Pichai and some representatives of the Chinese government in December 2017 confirm that the conclusion of an agreement is almost upon us.
According to theintercept.com, there are two different versions of the app for Android, called “maotai” and “longfei” that can censor, and therefore do not show, research results not in line with Chinese thought. As of today, for example, sites whose contents concern the 1989 Tiananmen massacre nor any reference to George Orwell’s books “The Animal Farm” and “1984” which depict the effects of totalitarianism can be shown.
The new app will even be able to censure not only the results but even the search query. This means that some keywords entered in the new application will not match any results. To this complaint is obviously added that of the images. The Chinese government will have the power to indicate to Google which images will have to be inserted in the blacklist.
Google had already tried an approach to the Chinese market between 2006 and 2010 raising several doubts about the professional ethics of the tech giant. Already at the time, in fact, he had accepted restrictive conditions regarding freedom of information and in 2010 he decided to abandon that market. However, almost 750 million internet users in the country of the Dragon are really many, as in all of Europe, and so after almost a decade Google has decided to comply with the conditions set by Beijing to approach such an attractive market.