It hasn’t been a good week for Chinese-Google relations, as the government and search engine giant engage in a dispute over Internet censorship. First Google announced it was looking into pulling out of the Chinese market after the company came under a number of targeted cyber-attacks aimed at accessing e-mail accounts, which just happened to be those of human rights activists in China and abroad. According to news reports, at least two Gmail accounts of foreign journalists in Beijing had been hacked.
Now Google has announced that it has postponed the launch of the Nexus One in China. A launch ceremony scheduled for today was canceled, but the company maintains that this is still just a delay.
Yesterday, it was also announced that a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Google would have to follow China’s laws and traditions. This has been seen that China isn’t about to give ground in the issue over Internet censorship, but it could also be seen as a reaction to Google’s threat to pull out of the country.
While many free speech advocates cheered Google’s decision, and this reporter for one supports the company’s decision, we should also not forget some history of China. Today, we see this as just about the only super power left standing besides the United States. We see a nation with a growing economy that potentially rivals the United States.
But as I often note in these posts, I’m also a student of history. China has had a long and sad history with the nation often falling under the influence of outsiders. Hong Kong became a British Crown Colony after the British defeated China in the Opium Wars, “opening” China to foreign trade, which just happened to include opium! Although, it is true that China was never officially “colonized” by the Europeans as much of India, South East Asia or virtually all of Africa had been, the nation was forced into a series of one-sided trade agreements and uneven treaties.
None of this really is an excuse for China’s human rights violations, but it should be considered when we try to understand the Chinese way of doing things. The irony is that as Japan became an economic juggernaut in the 1980s there were countless books and articles written about the Japanese way of doing business. The irony here is that we’re lacking any understanding, or historical context on why the Chinese have their own way of doing things as well.
Mobile Payments Startup Lands $25 million in Funding
Mobile payment firm Boku announced this week that it has raised $25 million in Series C funding led by DAG Ventures. This amount brings the total funding of the startup to $38 million since the firm launched last June. It was further announced that on the consumer platform it would be re-branded as Paymo, while maintaining the Boku name on its merchant and publisher side reports TechCrunch via The Washington Post.
The use of the Paymo name is interesting, as Boku had actually acquired Paymo, as well as Mobillcash. The firm now offers users with the ability to make a micropayment, even if they don’t have a credit card or bank account. Instead users enter their mobile phone number on the site and then reply to a text message. After that, all virtual charges automatically are charged to the user’s monthly mobile phone bill. Boku is currently available in 58 countries and on 190 carriers, with Baltic States Latvia and Lithuania being added this week, and carriers in South American nations Brazil and Argentina are reporting going to be offering the service soon. Thus the funds raised will help with this international growth.