Xiao Qiang (萧强): Google Prompts Soul-Searching in China

Here is the piece I wrote on the Guardian:

The Great Firewall now blocks hundreds of thousands websites outside of China. Fang Binxing, a computer scientist who is called the father of the Great Firewall, in recent public policy speeches has emphasised a unique Chinese government concept of “content security“, which includes information surveillance, blocking and public opinion analysis and monitoring.

Google has decided it can no longer aid and abet the government in maintaining such “content security”. Yet, even if the Chinese government does block all the services and products Google provides outside China, it is not the end of the story. The fact that most, if not all, Google services and products will not be available inside the Great Firewall will only generate stronger demand among Chinese netizens for circumvention tools.

This highly symbolic move by Google demonstrates the fundamental conflict between the free flow of information and an authoritarian regime; it also highlights the importance of defending internet freedom. Even if the company is not operating inside China, Google represents the force and future of the internet, which will continue to empower Chinese netizens to demand political change.

Also watch an interview I did with the Newshour

The transcript of this interview is at here:

JEFFREY BROWN: Just a brief last word, Xiao Qiang. Is there room for a compromise here? Or what do you expect to happen next?

XIAO QIANG: Well, I don’t see the Chinese government today, as the most powerful authoritarian regime, will compromise what they perceive is a regime security with a company like a Google.

But, in the long run, I do think Google represents the force of Internet and the future of Internet. The Chinese government can run what the Chinese now today call Chinternet. Chinternet vs. Internet, I think, ultimately, Chinternet will lose.