Everybody Out of the Pool

Modest proposal: not just Google, but every single multinational company offering online products and services should get out of China. Not as an embargo designed to force improvements in human rights, but out of self-interest. Why operate in a country that is determined to interfere with the core operations of your business, engage in nationally-sponsored industrial espionage directed at your most sensitive internal operations, impede the development of your market, and is just using your company until it can manage to wrangle some technology transfer to pseudo-parastatal dopplegangers?

Manufacture there if it makes sense. But don’t bother trying to sell products and services.

Microsoft, out. Yahoo, out. Blizzard, out. Everybody. You’re all being played for chumps. Now, if that move coincidentally happened to help a push for political liberalization, that’s a silver lining.

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3 Responses to Everybody Out of the Pool

  1. AndrewSshi says:

    Okay, I know that your point here is largely rhetorical, but there’s a market of well over a billion people with rising incomes, and so businesses are going to take a lot of risks to get in on that kind of market. After all, the potential payout at this point still probably outweighs the risks.

  2. Timothy Burke says:

    I cop to rhetorical.

    But on the other hand, let’s say you’re a multibillion dollar company, and you’re offered the following deal:

    “1. Make big big multi-million profit each of the next five years.
    2. But at any time in that interval, arbitrary interference and government-sponsored espionage may claw back significant amounts of that profit. Also being a handmaiden to oppression doesn’t do your image in other markets much good.
    3. At the end of five years, much of your proprietary technology will have been lifted and transferred to local competitors.
    4. See ya, suckers!”

    Seems to me like short-term thinking. Not that there’s any lack of that in the boardrooms of American companies at the moment, but the tech sector is supposed to be the one with its eyes on longer-term prospects.

  3. AndrewSshi says:

    I think that the tech sector is just as full of pointy-haired short-sighted bosses as any other industry. But many sectors of the tech industry have good enough PR as to portray themselves as more than corporations interested in the bottom line. But in the end, that’s what they are. It’s disappointing, but there you go.

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