China: Defending its Core Interest in the World – Part II

Yale Global has posted Part II in its series China: Defending its Core Interest in the World, by Yang Guobin. Read Part I, by Orville Schell, here. From Yang Guobin’s essay:

Media reports on Google’s redirecting internet searches by Chinese authorities to its uncensored site in Hong Kong have largely presented it as a conflict between two global titans. But the narrow focus of such reporting overlooks that Google’s pull-out was limited, leaving many services in place, and that Chinese authorities have not acted to shut down the company’s Hong Kong detour, notes professor and Chinese internet authority Guobin Yang. He not only analyzes the consequences for both sides – including Google watching as competitors fill the void and China’s need to defend its reputation and history of censorship – but also reveals the potential for reform. China’s leaders are uncertain about the internet’s value for the regime: The tool stirs anger and allows insecure bullies to attack anonymously. But the internet also helps in transparency exposing corruption and encourages accountability. China prefers gradual rather than impulsive change, as was evident when the nation established special economic zones for foreign investment, essentially pilot studies, in the early 1980s to test foreign trade. Expect Chinese authorities to monitor public reaction to Google’s uncensored Hong Kong search engine, and then decide whether an open internet is as useful for them as it is for Chinese citizens.


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