Rob Hanlon and Stephen Frost, CSR Asia, on 31 Mar 2010, criticised Google’s HR motives to withdraw from Mainland China. The core of their arguments is nothing new: Google was not making any profit, to stay would have been counterproductive to their business model; to withdraw in the name of HR is not helpful to China’s HR activists and it is an illusion to believe a foreign company can influence China’s policies on whether to censor or not.
Well, at the end of the reading, frankly, I am less than convinced by their arguments. I have no doubt that Google withdrew because it was not making enough money, but I do not think it is the only motive. I completely disagree with their stand about people/companies not being able to influence others including foreign governments. This is saying that nobody is responsible for whatever happens and history defies such argument. As we are talking about HR, let us think about Nelson Mandela. He was the catalyst of a whole movement who changed the course of history. Gandhi did the same against the then British Empire which power we forget the might.
Google’s answer to the criticism is poorly drafted I think. The HRW’s response is much more interesting as it points towards the weakness of Hanlon and Frost’s arguments.
All the reports are on the Business and HR website at http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1000252
For the earlier report on Google closing its site: Google Shuts China Site in Dispute Over Censorship (NY Times 22 March 2010) and different comments on the Business and HR website: http://www.business-humanrights.org/Links/Repository/1000132