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Google, China, Wikileaks: The Actual Cable

By - December 08, 2010

Guardian Cable Google China.png

When the Wikileaks story broke, I wrote a short piece chastising folks for blogging the assertion that one of the cables proves the Chinese government was behind the Google hacking which preceded Google’s pulling out of the country. The cable is based on single sources, who are anonymous and second-hand, and that doesn’t pass the journalistic sniff test.

My colleague Matt McAlister at the Guardian has sent me the link to the entire cable, and while I stand by my original take on the story, it sure is intriguing to read. In fact, the details I find most interesting are the interactions alleged between Baidu and the Chinese goverment.

From the cable:


Another contact claimed a top PRC leader was actively working with Google competitor Baidu against Google.


Google’s recent move presented a major dilemma (maodun) for the Chinese government, not because of the cyber-security aspect but because of Google’s direct challenge to China’s legal restrictions on Internet content. The immediate strategy, XXXXXXXXXXXX said, seemed to be to appeal to Chinese nationalism by accusing Google and the U.S. government of working together to force China to accept “Western values” and undermine China’s rule of law. The problem the censors were facing, however, was that Google’s demand to deliver uncensored search results was very difficult to spin as an attack on China, and the entire episode had made Google more interesting and attractive to Chinese Internet users. All of a sudden, XXXXXXXXXXXX continued, Baidu looked like a boring state-owned enterprise while Google “seems very attractive, like the forbidden fruit.”


XXXXXXXXXXXX noted the pronounced disconnect between views of U.S. parent companies and local subsidiaries. PRC-based company officials often downplayed the extent of PRC government interference in their operations for fear of consequences for their local markets. Our contact emphasized that Google and other U.S. companies in China were struggling with the stated Chinese goal of technology transfer for the purpose of excluding foreign competition. This consultant noted the Chinese were exploiting the global economic downturn to enact increasingly draconian product certification and government procurement regulations to force foreign-invested enterprises (FIEs) to transfer intellectual property and to carve away the market share of foreign companies.

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4 thoughts on “Google, China, Wikileaks: The Actual Cable

  1. Its common for Chinese companies of any substance to have high level government official or PLA general on staff or as senior adviser.

    Not having such person puts your company at disadvantage (at best) or in great risk (at worst), just ask Google.

  2. Tim says:

    Hi John, I saw this too, but does the NYT article based on unnamed sources, which The Guardian also re-reported, meet the sniff test? NYT claims sources that China’s propaganda chief named by US diplomats as the alleged orchestrator of hacker attacks on Google.

    Cheers, Tim

  3. It was a great move to google. However, will China be really affected by the google’s ban to their country? Or would it be the other way around?

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