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Google's Brin Talks About China Gamble


Google co-founder Sergey Brin participates in a panel discussion in February.

Reuters

Behind Google Inc.'s dramatic decision to shutter its China-based search engine this week was co-founder Sergey Brin's change of heart about the compromises required to do business in a land that was increasingly reminding him of his native Soviet Union.

The beginning of that change came just after the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Mr. Brin says in an interview about the China decision. As the glow of the Olympics faded, he says, the Chinese government began ratcheting up its Web censoring and interfering more with Google's business. Around that time, he says, the murky rules of doing business in China grew even murkier.

"China was ever-present," he says. "One out of five meetings I attended had some component that applied to China in a different way than other countries." 

The 36-year-old co-founder says he was also moved by growing evidence in China of repressive behavior he remembered from the Soviet Union, which he and his parents fled when he was six years old. He says memories of that time—having his home visited by Russian police; the anti-Semitic discrimination against his father—emboldened his view that it was time to abandon Google's policy.

From The Wall Street Journal
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