By David Bandurski — Google’s fate in China continues to grab international headlines, now jumbled together with other bilateral issues, including U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and an expected meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama. The Google issue continues to attract attention in China’s media as well, as one can see from this search through Google’s (erstwhile?) China competitor, Baidu.
But voices in support of Google in China have virtually disappeared from newspapers and online commentaries. Hmm. A true reflection of Chinese public opinion? How would anyone know? [See Qian Gang’s recent post on Internet freedoms in China].
[ABOVE: People’s Daily Online’s Strong Nation Forum: “Speech is completely free here,” says a People’s Daily editorial writer, below.]
Let us turn, anyway, to a piece that seems fairly typical of the criticism of Google we are seeing in the Chinese media landscape right now.
The following is an editorial that appeared last week at People’s Daily Online. In it columnist Jiao Xiang (焦翔), argues that through its open challenge to China’s government, Google risks throwing off its legitimate role as a multinational corporation, becoming instead a “tool of hegemony.”
My vote for the most precious line goes to: “Speech is completely free here at People’s Daily Online.” Enjoy:
“Google, Don’t Become a Tool of Hegemony“
Jiao Xiang (焦翔)
January 27, 2010
People’s Daily Online
The occurrence of the “Google incident” is in fact a strategic change on the part of the United States. In the past, the U.S. has used military power to maintain its global hegemonic status. But recently America’s power has taken a hit from the international financial crisis and the war against terror, and the U.S. has shifted the focus of its strategy from the arena of military affairs to the arena of the Internet. Google has become a tool of American online hegemony. How is it, in all truth, that a major multinational corporation can intrude on the security and the system of the country in which it resides [to do business]? Clearly, this is not corporate behavior, and other factors are at work behind the scenes.
When multinational corporation enter another country, the most fundamental principle to which they must abide is to respect the laws and system of that country. By the same rule, any country admitting a multinational corporation is bound by its own principles, and must abide by its national laws and system [in regard to that company]. This is a basic bottom line, and neither side may tread on that line.
It is only normal for a government to exercise control over the Internet, and it is the same in any country in the world, in such areas as fighting pornography or committing online crimes, for example. At the same time, various countries similarly demand that the content of Websites abides by national law and preserves national security.
In this regard, Google itself serves as an example, obscuring various satellite images of the United States. Generally speaking, monitoring, filtering and deletion are the basic methods by which countries control the Internet. This is especially true in Western countries, which while they yammer on and on about “freedom of expression” and “Internet freedom” in other countries, strictly control material that concerns their vital national interests. As, for example, when Google filters out posts that contain racial slurs or attacks on the United States.
China’s Internet monitoring is entirely in accord with the law, and both Internet companies and Internet users are afforded a large degree of freedom. There are now 200 million blogs in China, making it the biggest blogging nation on earth, and every day hundreds of millions go online to say what they wish.
As an online network, our People’s Daily Online is extremely free. We have already operated the “Strong Nation Forum” for a number of years. There is one principal that governs our work on the Internet, and that is respect for national laws and the preservation of healthy Internet development.
So long as it does not violate the law, anything can be raised. Speech is completely free here at People’s Daily Online. For example, we have set up various “message boards” for local governments [allowing people to post their issues], and in 2009 alone, more than 7,000 problems were voiced in these forums, and eventually peacefully settled.
Aside from this, we have a “discussion square” program in which anyone can offer their opinions and criticisms, which can ultimately be implemented or resolved. So long as there are ideas to support it, the Internet will have vitality and spirit.
Google is a company with a strong innovative spirit, and it has its own unique development ideas, a tall order for any company. I am confident that if Google can simply walk the path of corporate development, it will develop strongly. I hope it does not become a tool of hegemony.
[Posted by David Bandurski, February 3, 2010, 1:31pm HK]
[Homepage image by freefotouk available at Flickr.com under Creative Commons license].