Google Following the Footsteps of Wal-Mart???


In the context of the Google pile-on, James DeLong notes that many in the US have turned turned against Wal-Mart, but he fails to note whether many Chinese have done so...

That's not unusual, since most US coverage of Wal-Mart in China focuses on Wal-Mart sourcing goods there. But WM also has 45 stores in China, and it is this presence -- and the approval by the Chinese government that was needed to make it happen -- that Google critics seem not to have noticed.

For instance, Mr. Kessler writes:

Users in the West may not desert them, but a billion soon-to-be-online Chinese will forever associate Google with lame and censored search results - tools of the state. That just dumb. And totally uncool.

Uncool, yes. Uninspiring, yes. Unexpected, no.

Wal-Mart never had Google's street cred among the Western elite, and I have no idea about its image in China. But I think that it's still important to ask, does Wal-Mart China stock and sell books by Chinese dissidents? Books about the occupation of Tibet? The nature of Falun Gong? Do you think you can find a book with this photo in it? Maybe, -- I don't know since I have never been in a WM China store -- though I highly doubt it, and I will assume that Wal-Mart is engaging in censorship (by just not supplying specific goods) at the behest of the Chinese government.

This leads ot a more important question: since Wal-Mart China is already censoring information available in its stores, do the Chinese people consider Wal-Mart a tool of the Chinese state? Or is it just a decent place to work and shop? I don't know the answer to these questions, but I would insist that the Chinese people are not stupid or inconsistent: why should Google be judged harsher than Wal-mart for acting in the same exact way?

Note: I am making ASSUMPTIONS here, and will gladly rewrite this post in light of hard evidence.


The criticism of Wal-Mart from the left and the media is unrelenting. I think you're hearing an echo. People who work there and shop there are quite happy.

I agree that anti-WM criticism is unrelenting. Yet I've heard absolutely nothing about Wal-Mart not stocking books or CDs or DVDs or photographs at the behest of the government of China. What does the lack of "echo" say about the suppliers of Wal-Mart criticism -- or its consumers?


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This page contains a single entry by Kevin published on January 31, 2006 1:03 PM.

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