This has so far been a star-studded century for social media on the field of international politics. We watched a “Twitter revolution” take hold in Moldova in 2009, and “Facebook politics” unfold in Iran and elsewhere. These cyber-fueled convulsions have seemed to culminate this year with a “Facebook revolution” in Tunisia and social media influenced revolutions in Egypt and the rest of the Arab world.
For many observers, revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt are already archetypes pointing to the political magic that happens when people are networked and empowered by information technology. But for many Party hardliners in China, these convulsions tell a different story. That story is less about the “political power of social media” than about the national interests that power serves — those of the United States, of course.
And the story is also hackle-raisingly familiar, opening up a wellspring of galvanizing national shame. Western powers are once again seeking world domination through unrestricted monopoly trade in dangerous products. But this time it isn’t opium — it’s information.
As “web user” Zheng Yan (郑岩) wrote in an article posted Friday on People’s Daily Online, a website operated by the CCP’s official People’s Daily, “[Google] is not just a search engine tool — it is a tool to extend American hegemony.” The Mountain View, CA, based company is, says Zheng, “America’s British East India Company.”
The article was cross-posted on more than 300 websites in China, including Xinhua Online, QQ.com, China Youth Daily Online and Sina.com.
And since this is a story about good guys and bad guys, you should know that Chinese search engine provider Baidu is a national hero that “strongly blocked” Google in China.
Read on with joy.
“From the East India Company to Google“
March 4, 2011
By Zheng Yan (郑岩)
As an American company, Google’s enthusiasm for the politics of other nations goes beyond what is right.
Recently, Google, Facebook, Twitter and other American Internet giants have participated directly in the social storm that has engulfed the Middle East. They have played a key role in manufacturing social disorder, serving a role entirely inappropriate to their status. Wael Ghonim, Google’s chief representative in the Middle Eastern and North African markets even rendered assistance to Mohamed ElBaradei in driving forward the anti-government movement [in Egypt], becoming the chief agent behind Egyptian demonstrations. The facts have shown that Google is not purely a company, that it seeks not only to make the money of other nations, but also meddles in the political affairs of other countries. It is not just a search engine tool — it is a tool to extend American hegemony.
In the Internet age, whoever dominates the Internet dominates the world. As the world’s leading hegemonic power, America has always prioritized the Internet and sought to use the Internet as a means of promoting America’s national interests around the world. Google has been very cooperative with this strategic motive of the United States government, and [its cooperation] has been active.
The enterprise with the world’s highest online traffic, Google monopolizes the online search engine markets for the vast majority of nations and regions in the world, and it has the capacity to dominate online information, widely propagate lies and influence [the information] climate. When a number of countries in the Middle East experienced signs of instability due to inflation and other problems, Google immediately went on the offensive, even allowing a senior company manager to directly establish the online general headquarters of the anti-government movement, fostering successive protest movements and nakedly interfering with the internal politics of other nations. These actions of Google’s are astonishing, and they lead people naturally to recall the British East India Company.
In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the British East India Company, through the monopolization of trade, the sale of opium and open plunder, accomplished great works for England in its development of an “empire on which the sun never sets.” Marx once said concerning the British East India Company that there was a 200-year history of the British government carrying out wars in the name of this company, until this reached the natural boundaries of India.
In the colonial era, the British East India Company used the monopolization of trade in the colonies to traffic opium and assist Britain in building its hegemony. In the Internet era, Google uses its monopoly of Internet information search to traffic American values and assist American in building its hegemony.
While there are differences in the ways the two [companies] served hegemony, they are uncannily alike in the way they rely upon hegemonic governments to interfere in the internal affairs of other nations and attain monopoly positions globally. It can be said that today’s Google is America’s British East India Company.
At its heart, Google is quite similar to the British East India Company. But in managing its outward appearance it is far more skillful than the British East India Company ever was. Google does not burn, kill and pillage, but rather is a master of disguises. Against the modus operandi of the British East India Company, which was to “carry out trade when necessary and plunder when possible,” Google’s slogan is far more bewitching: “Do no evil.” The problem is that no company on earth “does evil” as a matter of creed, and it is a bit hypocritical for Google to say it “does no evil.” The facts show that this “Do no evil” is actually an admission of guilt through a protestation of innocence.
This company that claims to “do no evil” has cooperated with America’s National Security Agency to monitor the private information of American citizens. It has been taken to court by publishing companies in France, Germany, Belgium and many countries for violations of copyright. It has been compelled by China and other countries to clean up its act because it disseminates pornographic content. And most recently it has also openly released subversive information, fomenting unrest in other countries. Before the facts, Google’s creed of “Do no evil” is like a joke. Is it any wonder that Apple CEO Steve Jobs once said that Google’s “Do no evil” creed was complete nonsense?
A company that hold a monopoly position in its industry is of course formidable, but Google is not without its enemies under heaven. In China, it was strongly blocked by Baidu. According to statistics from the China Internet Network Information Center, Baidu held 75.5 percent of China’s domestic search engine market in the fourth quarter of 2010, and Google’s share of the market, which had fallen for four consecutive quarters, stood at just 19.6 percent . . . Losing its competitive advantage, this Google which had swept across the entire world market, was furious with shame and started playing the political card.
[This portion includes a summary of Google’s pullout from China, and how China remained determined to “govern the Internet in accordance with the law” despite Google’s arrogant exceptionalism.] But this momentary setback could not deter a company like this from its ways. Seizing on social unrest in the Middle East, it once again raised its ugly head and again it sought to play the political card against China. China has no illusions about such a company. It disregards basic truth and international law to wantonly interfere in the internal affairs of other nations. China has the right to monitor and control it in accordance with Chinese laws and regulations.
During the Opium Wars more than a century ago, the British East India Company forced open the doors of China with its own gunships, sending China into a century of chaos and leaving Chinese with a bitter history of humiliation. Today, China will not stand by and let a new British East India Company repeat the events of history.
FRONTPAGE IMAGE: Statue at Opium War Museum in Humen Dongguan, available from dcmaster at Flickr.com under Creative Commons license.