Google, do not take Chinese netizens hostage

22:11, January 19, 2010      

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It is ordinary for a commercial company to enter and exit the Chinese market, but this is not the case for Google. Firstly, it gave the Chinese government an ultimatum, requiring the latter to make a concession, which is obviously political in nature. In addition, Google's move won the collective support from the U.S. government, congress and western media agencies, so this event has completely been politicized. Such politicization was not provoked by China, but imposed by the U.S. and the west onto China.

As to how the event has gone so far, the Google event looks more like another "Akmal Shaikh" event, and perhaps even worse. Of course, the result of the event must be that Chinese government will never violate the rules of the market and laws for the sake of a commercial company, let alone give up its political bottom line and diplomatic principles because of a note from the U.S. government.

It is a lie to claim that the Internet is an absolutely free space without regulations. The truth is that it is the extension of the real world. Therefore, implementing monitoring according to a country's national context is what any government has to do. The Chinese society has generally less information bearing capacity than developed countries such as the U.S., which is an objective reality that no one can deny. Chinese intellectuals living in China should show understanding to the motherland's weakness. China will certainly and gradually change this reality, but the starting point of the change should be in the interests of the entire Chinese society instead of for the convenience or desire of a small group of people. In fact, both western politicians and media leaders understand this; those who do not understand this are either unwilling to understand China due to cultural arrogance or pretend not to know it. In fact, world countries including the U.S. do not permit the existence of a laisser-faire Internet world either. To combat terrorism after the "9/11" terrorist attack, the U.S. has permitted police to search civilian emails and even monitor their communications without permission. Western countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Germany and Sweden have also passed similar bills.

In recent years, China has sincerely opened up to the outside world. However, China follows its own course while learning from the west and its reluctance to copy the Internet control and supervision mode of the U.S. does not contradict its adherence to the "4 Cardinal Principles" released in the early stage of the opening up and reform. At that time, even in China, some people raised doubts about the Chinese government's choice. However, when looking back, we now can find that the government's choice is correct. In contrast, Gorbachev was once widely praised by the west and his political reform even won much admiration in China. But, it was Gorbachev that finally ruined the Soviet Union. Therefore, China must not follow the western world's practice on crucial issues such as Internet control and supervision. Of course, China is progressing and its Internet industry should advance accordingly. However, China must have its own plan on how to regulate and deregulate the Internet and should not and will not follow orders from Google's CEO and the U.S. Department of State.

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt stated that he "loves China and the Chinese people." The author of this article holds that such love should not be empty talk. Google should show its sincerity by taking practical actions and should first abide by China's laws and not seek any privilege in China, stop launching surprise attacks against China if it really "loves China." At the same time, Google should take the Chinese people's feelings into consideration and stop using Chinese customers as hostage to confront the Chinese government.

Several days before Google declared that it planned to withdraw from China, the U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton held a small evening dinner party. The guests she invited were just the leaders of the powerful information enterprises such as the Microsoft, Twitter and Google. The two affairs were so close that people would unavoidably think they were connected. After this political affliction, Google has already made itself in an awkward situation. If it withdraws from China, it will lose a market consisting of 360 million netizens; if it does not, it will be hijacked by the U.S. government.

By now, a year and a half have passed since the financial crisis, which badly damaged the reputation of the U.S., broke out. From a series of movements that the U.S. government made recently, we can see that the U.S. is trying to recover and maintain its own outlook of values. We do not hope that giant multinational enterprises such as Google will become pure political tools for the U.S. to export its own concepts of values. A lot of Chinese people like Google, but they do not want to become tools being used by Google.

The author is Zhang Jingwei, a scholar in Jiangsu Province. The article is translated by People's Daily Online

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