The Financial Times's "Lex" column calls Google's decision to stop censoring its search engine in China a "lose-lose scenario." I was going to write a post disagreeing -- does the Financial Times publish a censored version of its Web site for consumption within China? Instead I went and bought some Google stock, hoping to take advantage of FT readers dumping their shares in a panic after reading the Lex column's worrying about Google losing access to China's market.
Then I spent some time researching the history of Coke and Pepsi in the Soviet Union. As the Pepsi Web site puts it, "Russia and PepsiCo have a long, storied history dating back to 1959 when Nikita Khrushchev had his picture snapped enjoying a Pepsi during the American National Exhibition in Moscow under the watchful eye of then-U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon." Coca-Cola went in to the Soviet Union much later, really only in any significant scale after the collapse or defeat of Communism. In 1989 Coke was selling one eight ounce serving of its product in Russia for each Russian consumer. By last year that had grown to 59 eight ounce servings for each Russian.
One day the Chinese Communist system will crumble just as the Soviet Communist system does, and when it does, there will be Chinese who remember what side of the fight for freedom Google was on. In the meantime, it's great to see a company that thinks the interests of its shareholders are in a firm stand for freedom. The New York Times has an interview with Google co-founder Sergey Brin, who says his views were shaped by his childhood in the Soviet Union. "Our objection is to those forces of totalitarianism," he says. The comments string on the New York Times site, worth a look, includes some statements from people within China applauding Google's decision.