Google’s Eric Schmidt Unloads on China in New Book

Amid a string of accusations about Chinese hacking attacks on American news organizations, The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Gara previews The New Digital Age, a forthcoming book from Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Google Ideas director Jared Cohen. Among the book’s themes is the purported global menace of China’s rise, but the authors reiterate Schmidt’s conviction that the country’s current path will ultimately prove unsustainable.

China, Schmidt and Cohen write, is “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” as well as “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, the willingness of China’s government and state companies to use cyber crime gives the country an economic and political edge, they say.

[…] But for all the advantages China gains from its approach to the Internet, Schmidt and Cohen still seem to think its hollow political center is unsustainable. “This mix of active citizens armed with technological devices and tight government control is exceptionally volatile,” they write, warning this could lead to “widespread instability.”

In the longer run, China will see “some kind of revolution in the coming decades,” they write.

In a separate post, Gara takes a broader overview of the book’s contents, including real-name registration, “automated and machine-precise” haircuts, and the view that “we’re already living in an age of state-led cyber war, even if most of us aren’t aware of it.” See also Schmidt’s daughter Sophie’s account of their recent trip to North Korea.