When business people are in doubt, they can always claim unfair trade in order to tap government diplomats and the WTO. However, there are certain areas of trade which simply conflict with a country’s critical laws and culture.
In this case, China asserts censorship is a critical part of government. This is the same as the US holding strong to federal trade laws prohibiting the sale of marijuana. There are certain countries which disagree with US policy, but that doesn’t mean they have a slam dunk case with the WTO.
Imagine for a moment a company from China which sold home abortion kits. Clearly, the US government would oppose the sale of them in the US. Imagine the Chinese company claiming abortions are a human right for women. Uncle Sam holds firm, “No.” What if the company switched gears and claimed they had a right to sell the kits in the US under fair trade laws promulgated by the WTO? I think we can all see this case is still headed for failure.
I was an original supporter of Google’s move to challenge China. I even recently spoke on behalf of Google on BBC Radio. But this time their legal team is trying to attack via a “trade issue” because the “human rights” path was too tough to forge. A lot of lawyers and lobbyists will make a nice chunk of change with this new strategy, but Google will not.