Life after Google

A translation/blurb from China Media Project:

Changjiang Daily columnist Liu Hongbo (刘洪波) writes in Southern Metropolis Daily today about the business of paid search engine results at China’s market-leading search engine, Baidu, which has a virtual monopoly in mainland China after the recent departure of Google. The top results for a search of the term “Great Wall,” for example, are all products and commercial interests.

Liu writes: “Today, Baidu is the pride of the [Chinese] Internet age, as though [people believe] it is a victorious Chinese search engine, and it is virtually without competitors. However, this does not mean that Baidu has the right to provide a distorted picture of the information world, to artificially control our browsing and brainwash people.”

Compare to Google. You decide which search engine you’d rather use as your default.

Update: While I’m on the topic of censorship, I wanted to point out an excellent piece on the horrifying spate of attacks on children in China in recent months. Yes, the US has had as many if not more such attacks. What’s different is how the media handles them.

After the first attack, in which a man stabbed and killed eight children outside an elementary school in Fujian Province on March 23, the Internet and government media bubbled with outrage, and the state-run Xinhua news service issued a lengthy study of the loner who committed the crime.

But on Friday, after three consecutive days of spontaneous and inexplicable assaults on children as young as 3, the media went silent. News of the latest attack, at the Shangzhuang Primary School in Shandong Province, vanished from the headlines on major Internet portals, replaced by an announcement that the government had assembled a team of 22 experts to help the education system set things right.

Posts on social networking sites indicated the change in tone came from the Communist Party’s central propaganda department, which directs and censors coverage of major news events.

If it was a classic response, born of Leninist dogma that dictates that bad news be buried and the state’s heroism trumpeted, it was still understandable after a week of what were apparently copycat crimes.

Yet some aspects of the assaults — the alacrity with which they were copied by new assailants, to cite one example — raised questions among some Chinese about whether something else was at work here. Curiously, the four attacks in March and April mirror a series of assaults in August and September 2004, in which students in four other schools and a day care center were attacked by knife-wielding men who stabbed dozens of children.

One theme echoed in some Internet postings was the feeling by many Chinese citizens that they had little power in the face of authority, and few ways to right wrongs. One posting compared the attacks to a notorious rampage in July 2008 by a man who said he felt he had been wronged by the police. In a single attack in Shanghai, the man, Yang Jia, stabbed six police officers to death — and he became a national hero by the time he was executed that November.

One person who posted in a chat room pointed out that after the attack in March, a student wrote a letter to the assailant, saying, “If you’ve got hatred, please go to kill the corrupted official.”

“Isn’t it shocking to hear such assertions come from a child?” the poster wrote. “But in fact, this is a collective perception shared by the entire society. That’s why Yang Jia was hailed as a hero after killing innocent police.

Maybe there’s trouble in paradise? If so, don’t expect to see much about it in the paper or in your Baidu searches.