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Google Opens Asian Data Centers But Shuns China and India 75

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the google-announces-shuttering-of-u.s.-datacenters dept.
judgecorp writes "Google has opened data centers in Singapore and Taiwan to serve the boom in Asian Internet users. But it canceled a $300 million data center project in Hong Kong to focus on the Taiwan site and the smaller one in Singapore. Officially the problem was lack of space in Hong Kong, but China's repressive attitude to the Internet (and the history of the Chinese hack on Gmail in 2010) must have contributed to the move."
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Google Opens Asian Data Centers But Shuns China and India

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  • good for them (Score:4, Interesting)

    by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @09:54AM (#45659665)
    This sounds like exactly the right move, except for maybe not being able to serve the Chinese market like they might have in Hong Kong.
    • by iserlohn (49556)

      This is not good for Hong Kong as it is the only place in China (apart from maybe Macau) that has a free press and significant protection on civil liberties. It's not like HK has any leverage on the decision process in Mainland China.

      • Re:good for them (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bobwalt (2500092) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:52AM (#45660031)
        It is more like Hong Kong's much touted liberties are more illusion than reality. What freedoms Hong Kong has only exists at the whim of China's central government. Indeed, Beijing has made it clear they will not let Hong Kong go too far. China has never really understood freedom of the press that is why they made such a concerted effort to hack US newspapers. They just do not believe a country can allow a press that is not controlled by the government. They had hoped to find proof that the US government has total control of the US press, I guess they didn't find it.
        • by iserlohn (49556)

          I don't dispute this. The Chinese government doesn't seem to hide it well as well.

          However, having the rights on paper and on the statue books is better than not. It curbs the most excessive abuses and raises the bar in the amount of effort needed to short-change the People.

          • by bobwalt (2500092)
            It does not matter what laws China has on the books as their government feels it is above the law.
        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Mainland has to be very careful in their manipulating of the HK politics, as the general HK public doesn't like them doing this. They're indeed going quite far nowadays, and the situation is getting out of hand. Protests against this meddling are getting more and more radical as well.

        • by Type44Q (1233630)

          They just do not believe a country can allow a press that is not controlled by the government.

          Apparently neither do we, considering our own intelligence services discretely took over mainstream media [wikipedia.org] during the Civil Rights Movement (and the rest, as they say, is history [sic])...

          • by bobwalt (2500092)
            Getting some newspaper publishers' support for anti-communism is quite a bit different from government control. I don't recall newspapers shut down and their publishers jailed during the Civil Rights Movement and I remember reading quite a bit about it in the newspapers at the time. In fact without publicity Martin Luther King's non violence movement would have never worked. However, it is true that for a long time both the CIA and much of the State Department were populated by Cold Warriors and felt any
    • Baidu will not be crushed to hear of this.
    • Re:good for them (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @11:00AM (#45660087)
      Something else refreshing, an article writer who still knows that Taiwan is not under the rule of the PRC.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      This sounds like exactly the right move, except for maybe not being able to serve the Chinese market like they might have in Hong Kong.

      China's just more open about it than other Asian countries, to be honest. Practically every Asian country censors the Internet, and many often have very bizarre laws regarding commerce and the like. None have free speech (and have the power to arbitrarily jail and execute people).

      The only reason we hear about China is they're more open about it. But practically everyone enga

      • by iserlohn (49556)

        I don't buy this argument at all. The extent of Chinese censorship and the fact that they have clones of all of the major internet services inside the great firewall of China is evidence enough to disprove it.

      • I love this one. China is a more open, and hence more admirable, country because it admits how oppressive it is. Yay for openness! All the other (East?) Asian countries do the same thing, but are just so much better at it that they manage to conceal all evidence. No, honest, I know it's true even though they keep it a secret. BTW, if it's a secret, how do you know about it?

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Hong Kong is not China. For all practical purposes it is a different country. Different legal system, different laws, different culture, even different official language.

      What the mainland government thinks about the Internet is quite irrelevant on this side of the border. Hong Kong has a very high level of freedom of expression, and our Internet is more free than that of certain "free" countries like the UK with its mandatory "anti-porn" filters.

  • Not fair (Score:2, Funny)

    by halivar (535827)

    How can I quote "Do no evil" sarcastically? I need a different headline.

  • It's a good thing the US government hasn't done anything like that to Google, eh? Moral high ground, and all...
    • by Desler (1608317)

      Stupid editorializing like that is what you get when people put nationalism before human rights. The other side is always needing to be painted as worse than the home team to to keep the plebes in check.

    • by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:12AM (#45659753)

      This is probably going to sound really stupid, but imagine for a moment that you're a company called Loolge, and you've been court-ordered to allow your home government's security agency - let's call it the NAS - access to the vast archives of information you hold on your enormous international customer base. One day a large, rival nation - Nicha - hacks into your servers and gains access to some of that prized information.

      Wouldn't the NAS mandate that you immediately and permanently stop doing business in Nicha, lest there be another breach?

      I can think of a thousand holes in this but it kind of demonstrates how playing ball with someone like the NSA makes all Google's previous "do no evil" actions seem suspect.

      • Joe Sixpack needs to go to work, come home to supper, make love to his wife once a week, wax patriotic and believe there is some evil country out there he should be glad he doesn't hail from. Much like organized religion, it would seemingly occur to more folks that nationalism is a handy tool to keep the masses happy with their station.
      • by swillden (191260)

        I can think of a thousand holes in this but it kind of demonstrates how playing ball with someone like the NSA makes all Google's previous "do no evil" actions seem suspect.

        Only if Google has played ball with the NSA. AFAICT, there is not evidence of that. It appears that the NSA has spied on Google without Google's knowledge or participation, though.

    • by Tim12s (209786)

      If the US can take a fibre copy of an entire Google data-centre/backup then so can any other country/organisation. That means that expect more than just the US having copies and keeping very very quiet about it. If they don't, then I am sure that certain countries are going "thats a good idea" and its a race between the Google team locking down their inter data center coms.

      Any country that hosts a google datacentre and any fibre operator that has a managed service contract could be considered "compromised

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do you honestly think you can determine the motives of a massive multi-national corporation based on a couple of news stories that were floating around a while ago?

    Do you not think there might possibly a few other factors you don't have the first idea about?

  • HK [wikipedia.org] is a separate autonomous state. It has a separate border control and people basically live the free life over there.

    Chinese oppressive government has got practically nothing to do with them. Speculating otherwise is just pure nonsense.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      HK [wikipedia.org] is a separate autonomous state. It has a separate border control and people basically live the free life over there.

      Chinese oppressive government has got practically nothing to do with them. Speculating otherwise is just pure nonsense.

      You expect Americans to understand these subtle distinctions?

    • by JeffAtl (1737988) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:43AM (#45659949)

      No, Hong Kong is not a "separate autonomous state". Hong Kong takes its marching orders directly from Beijing. Hong Kong has the illusion of autonomy only as long as it does not contradict the wishes of Beijing.

      Hong Kong knows to keep and low profile and not rock the boat or the mainland will eliminate the extra freedoms that they currently enjoy.

      As a thought exercise, consider what would happen if HK decided to enter into a defense treaty with Taiwan. What do you think would happen?

      • by iserlohn (49556)

        HK cannot enter a defence treaty with Taiwan. As you said it is not a separate autonomous state - it doesn't have any power in defence. It does have limited foreign policy power, but only related to trade.

        The real test is the plan to allow for the election of the Chief Executive in HK by the popular vote. Right now all of the candidates have to be first vetted by BJ through a selection committee of 800 BJ loyalists (out of a population of nearly 8 million). The plan for the popular vote of the entire Legisl

        • by wvmarle (1070040)

          Population of HK is just over 7 mln, and election committee was expanded to 1200 before the latest elections that saw Leung Chun-Ying elected CE. Please get your facts right. And while by far most election committee members are Beijing loyalists, not all are.

  • A data centre in Hong Kong would have been a turnaround for Google, since it very publicly pulled out of the country after attacks on Gmail which it blamed on the Chinese government in 2010.

    This is incorrect -- Google pulled out of Mainland China, not Hong Kong. The author seems unaware, but Hong Kong has different laws from the Mainland, including data privacy and free speech. In fact, since Google pulled out of mainland China, www.google.cn actually shows a redirect link to www.google.com.hk .

  • As someone who currently lives in Hong Kong, the official explanation doesn't seem to be too far off. Space is very limited and *incredibly* expensive.

    While we have free internet here and many people actually have a Google account, this is just not true for the mainland. China just does not depend on Google so much as the rest of the world. After having blocked access to some services every now and then in the past years, you now have most Chinese rely on domestic services instead of Google/Facebook & C

  • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:46AM (#45659983) Journal

    http://m.slashdot.org/story/195431 [slashdot.org]

    (If you didn't read the article, basically it's how the Indian Govt., seemingly in light of Nokia's purchase by deep pocketed Microsoft, has raised the amount of taxes due from $300M to $3B)

    I have no problem with any country imposing whatever taxes they want on any foreign entity wanting to do business in their country. That's what comes with them being a "sovereign" state I guess. What's sure to drive businesses away (and will keep me from bringing my modest company there) is when they impose such taxes/restrictions RETROACTIVELY as was in this and other cases. That's not to mention the lack of infrastructure, corruption, nepotism, and poor education there. (I have just suffered personally from this, I was in Bangalore two days ago where I got serious food poisoning from a McDonalds, evidently some people are cutting corners or aren't properly trained/managed).

    I'm sure Nokia is rueing the day they decided to build their manufacturing plant(s) there. While apologists for this may say it's probably just a negotiating tactic, there's another word for it: extortion.

    Say what you will about the U.S. and other developed countries at least they pay lip service to the rule of (hopefully non-arbitrary) law for decades (or maybe centuries like in Switzerland). Seen in this light, perhaps Google's decision to likewise stay out of China is a bit less mysterious. A prominent Chinese professor was fired from a top ranked Chinese university for calling on the government to follow the Chinese Constitution and adhere to the rule of law. Evidently he didn't toe the government line (as announced by the newly installed, not elected premiere) that requiring the government to follow their own Constitution was a plot by the western powers to weaken China. (I believe the government didn't even pretend, as in other cases, that this professor was bad at his job; he received generally positive reviews from student evaluations. Of course even if he was terrible, tenure should allow him academic freedom to speak his mind but hey, this is China).

    Instead the Chinese government reserves the right to arbitrary use of power. So if you were Google, would you put a substantial technological investment there?

    Thank god that Google (Android), Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Intel, Cisco, AMD and I almost forgot Microsoft, are American companies. Can you imagine what the world would be like if China had the power the NSA has? (I guess ARM is not American but their British so that's close. And although I'm American, I'm not remotely white, can you tell by my username? :)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Can you imagine what the world would be like if China had the power the NSA has?

      They do, but the whistleblowers didn't make it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Sez Zero (586611)

      I have just suffered personally from this, I was in Bangalore two days ago where I got serious food poisoning from a McDonalds

      While one might argue that any food from McDonald's is poison, I'll be especially careful to avoid those restaurants in Maine. Who knew the northeast was such a pit?

      • Sorry! Should have referred to it by its now reinstated original (?) name, Bengalaru. :)

        I have absolutely nothing against McD. In fact I would dearly love to go to Maine to try McDonalds version of a Maine Lobster sandwich (no kidding, I saw it on the internet so it must be true). I wonder if they are still making it.

    • by jrumney (197329)

      I have just suffered personally from this, I was in Bangalore two days ago where I got serious food poisoning from a McDonalds

      Tip for healthy eating in the developing world. Stay away from places staffed by 19 year old high school dropouts who couldn't care less if their employer's reputation goes down the toilet (literally). That means hotels and chain restaurants. You're much better off at a roadside stall where the owner/operator's livelyhood depends on their reputation for cheap, great tasting food th

  • I assume Google is going to move its datacenters out of the US then, to protest the ongoing US government hacking that is going on?

  • Officially (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot@@@uberm00...net> on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @11:11AM (#45660171) Homepage Journal

    Officially the problem was lack of space in Hong Kong

    ...but let's just ignore that and come up with conspiracy theories.

  • I believe them that space was the problem in Hong Kong. Expensive real estate there. My understanding is that the Chinese government does not meddle too much in the affairs of Hong Kong like they do on the Mainland.

    That being said, I have a client that is trying to do business in China, and I can confirm that the Chinese government is a total pain in the ass about this. I'm not involved in the details, but basically, you need an e-commerce license that is insanely expensive to sell anything in the Chinese m

    • by JeffAtl (1737988)

      And if your business is successful, China can decide to nationalize it or force you into accepting a minority stake partnership agreement. Granted, Venezuela & Russia are also notorious for this type of behavior.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      Probably not so much a problem of the cost of the space, good chance that it was more literally. It is really hard to find a single large space in HK, as in one that is large enough to build a Google-scale data centre.

  • Singapore has EXCELLENT coverage to all of Asia (sans West Asia). From Singapore you can easily serve content to both India and China (with http://cablemap.info/ to see the pipes going into and out of Singapore. In 2015, Singapore will gain improved connectivity to Australia (APX West). Taiwan is similarly situated, albeit further from India/Pakistan/etc.

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