When Google broke the news that it had been hacked in mainland China and that the email accounts of Chinese dissidents had been among the targets, it retaliated immediately by stopping its self-censorship: that same morning, google.cn users searching for ‘Tiananmen Incident’ (天安門事件) could have seen many bloody pictures on the first image result page. Nevertheless, many believe the Google affair matters little, seeing as Google’s far less popular than Baidu is in mainland China.
For human rights, perhaps, Google isn’t a huge deal in China, since it holds 43% of the Chinese market to Baidu’s 56%, even if it can be argued that 43%, given China’s large population, is still quite significant.
Why’s Google still worth keeping in mainland China, then? Perhaps total market share isn’t the only important thing, as far as Google’s importance goes. The International Business Times reports (HT: John Hobbins), ‘More than three-quarters of scientists in China use the search engine Google as a primary research tool and say their work would be significantly hampered if they were to lose it, a survey showed on Wednesday.’ If this is true, the loss of Google’s a bigger deal than many people think, because it plays a vital role that Baidu doesn’t.