Are we really surprised that Google is leaving China?
The company whose motto is “Don’t be evil,” is leaving the home of Tiananmen Square and the occupation of Tibet. Ostensibly, the cause was the official hacking of some Gmail accounts. But the conflict was inevitable.
As long as the Chinese leaders maintain that their immense cash balances and growing consumer population puts them in a special class of market, these conflicts will continue. Organizations that think that they special and that stifle dissent are likely to veer into unsustainable practices. The results are often not pretty.
Google’s exit is likely to be the first of many. As western companies conclude that the compromises required to do business in China are corrosive to their core values, others will follow.
It may be that these high-profile departures will encourage the leaders there to adopt more open and self-critical practices. But we just don’t know.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
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