Google's conduct in China has in recent months seemed considerably less than idealistic. In January, a few months after Lee opened the Beijing office, the company announced it would be introducing a new version of its search engine for the Chinese market. To obey China's censorship laws, Google's representatives explained, the company had agreed to purge its search results of any Web sites disapproved of by the Chinese government, including Web sites promoting Falun Gong, a government-banned spiritual movement; sites promoting free speech in China; or any mention of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. If you search for "Tibet" or "Falun Gong" most anywhere in the world on google.com, you'll find thousands of blog entries, news items and chat rooms on Chinese repression. Do the same search inside China on google.cn, and most, if not all, of these links will be gone. Google will have erased them completely.

Google's decision did not go over well in the United States. In February, company executives were called into Congressional hearings and compared to Nazi collaborators. The company's stock fell, and protesters waved placards outside the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google wasn't the only American high-tech company to run aground in China in recent months, nor was it the worst offender. But Google's executives were supposed to be cut from a different cloth. When the company went public two years ago, its telegenic young founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, wrote in the company's official filing for the Securities and Exchange Commission that Google is "a company that is trustworthy and interested in the public good." How could Google square that with making nice with a repressive Chinese regime and the Communist Party behind it?

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