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The 2010 Dispute Between Google and China Essay

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Updated: May 20th, 2021


Any international negotiation should consider the peculiar features and cultural traditions of all partners. It is especially true concerning business negotiations in Asian countries. The dispute between Google and China with the following negotiations, which emerged in 2010, is an example of doing business internationally. It mirrors possible complications that can be faced by companies if they choose to cooperate in the Asian region.

The Dispute

The issue of the 2010 dispute was in the desire of Google to show uncensored search results and thus protect the privacy of the users. The Chinese government, in its turn, was interested in not letting undesirable social and political content enter Chinese cyberspace. Google made a strategic step and announced the fact of cyber-attacks from the Chinese government. Its aim was to involve China in negotiating process as a weak part. However, the Chinese government came out with accurate tactics.

Negotiation: Steps and Arguments

The first issue of negotiation was the censorship of the search results. China demanded censorship, and Google refused to provide this function. One of the threats was put into action. Google paused the launch of a new Android device in China and justified it with the care for customers. The second radical step taken by Google was redirecting Chinese Google users to the Hong Kong version since it was not censored. These power-based steps had a goal to make the Chinese government angry.

The Chinese government made some powerful steps in response. A planned media coverage depicted the story to discredit Google and show the dissatisfaction of the citizens with the current strategy of the company. As a counter-action to Google stopping a new smartphone launch in China, one of the Chinese cell companies removed the function of Google search from its Android phones.

Another aspect of arguments was concentrated in the sphere of rights. As a response to the Chinese mass-media attack, Google argumentatively proved the legal character of its actions. Within a legal sphere, the Chinese government announced the idea that a company working in the country should follow the accepted rules and laws of that country. After some dispute, the parties revealed their true interests in each other.

The parties soon realized that they had a lot to lose in an impasse, and it was fair to consider the other party’s interests. Google was interested in the Chinese market as one of the biggest in the world. The loss of this market would mean a decrease in profits and influence. China, with its economic growth, was a place of interest for investors, and the withdrawal of Google from the country could negatively influence the image of China for foreign investments. Still, the Chinese government could not give up one of its values of the collective social good, which depended on the censorship policies.

Successes and Mistakes

Thus, the parties came to the negotiation with four core problems to discuss. These issues included censorship of Google search results, Google’s activity in China, the Chinese cyber-attacks on Google’s services, and privacy for Google products. Despite its weaker position, Google succeeded in the negotiation. The company renewed its license for business in China. One of the proper steps in negotiation with China was the consideration of its value of status. Thus, Google’s CEO participated in the negotiation to underline the importance of the event. He managed to establish a working relationship and demonstrate confidence which is a precondition of successful negotiation (Lempereur and Colson 32). Another good decision was the publicity. The fact they revealed cyber-attacks meant that the company is open to fair communication.

One of the mistakes of Google was leading negotiations according to American traditions. Direct confrontation typical for American style is not effective in the Asian market. The consideration of cultural implications is necessary. For example, even face practices matter in Chinese business culture (Cardon 34). Another thing that became a stumbling block for Google’s company was the Chinese demand to accept Guanxi. It is very important in the Chinese business world and unites millions of companies throughout China into a business network (Luo 1). Finally, Google left negotiation with satisfactory results. However, with more profound preparation for a cross-cultural negotiation, the result could have been achieved faster and with less discussion.


The case of Google and Chinese government negotiation is an example of cross-cultural negotiation. Generally, this kind of business discussion is more complicated and less productive than merely business negotiation. It can be explained by the fact that the government protects the interests of the whole nation and is not likely to make concessions. One of the problems for a company negotiating with a government is not to give up its values for vague perspectives. The promises of a government should be legally stated. Another issue to consider is negotiating with countries with emerging markets. They are usually focused on the economic component, which can influence the course of the discussion. Finally, it is necessary to have a negotiation plan with set dates and follow it since governmental negotiation can be tiring and long-lasting without certain results. Generally, the case of Google and the Chinese government negotiation was a successful one. Both parties demonstrated smart and meaningful actions leaving the opportunity to return to previous positions.

Works Cited

Cardon, Peter W. “A Model of Face Practices in Chinese Business Culture: Implications for Western Businesspersons.” Wiley InterScience, vol. 51, no. 1, 2009, pp. 19-36.

Lempereur, Alain, and Aurelien Colson. The First Move: A Negotiator’s Companion. John Willey & Sons, 2010.

Luo, Yadong. Guanxi and Business. 2nd ed. World Scientific Publishing, 2007.

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