Despite China’s mantra that the Google issue should not be “politicized,” it is, at the end of the day, highly politicized, especially inside China.
Xiao Qiang, founder and editor in chief of China Digital Times, said that China’s leaders once saw the Internet as having both political and commercial uses that balanced each other to a degree. “But increasingly they see it as a political space,” he said.
The implication of that thinking, post-Google, is that companies that want to be major players on the Chinese Web will have to prove their political fealty to the leadership, much as traditional media companies do. “Chinese companies have to be collaborators,” Mr. Xiao said.
One Western official in China said that the leadership is now treating the Internet as a “core interest,” an issue of sovereignty on which Beijing will brook no intervention. The most commonly cited core interests are Taiwan and Tibet, the third-rail issues in China’s international diplomacy.