After Google threw down the gauntlet on Chinese censorship, we covered the explosion of debate in the West: speculation on Google's motives, musings on the international ramifications, op-eds calling for a fight against censorship, and tech experts' views on the security problems brought up by the hacking. But what about the debate in China?
Fortunately for the Mandarin unliterate, there are a number of blogs devoted to Chinese media translations. Here are the highlights of the Chinese reaction--from the "disgusted" response of a Baidu chief design officer to praise for Google from Twitterers who breached the firewall.
- Not Good News for China Liu Hongbo in the Southern Metropolis Daily, translated and posted at the China Media Project, says that though "of course we can still use Baidu ... even if just for the sake of preserving normal market competition in China, Google should still exist." He also worries that, as China is "in the midst of becoming a 'major power,' ... the world's biggest Internet service provider withdraws from China ... will the closure of Google in China urge us ... to consider what sort of environment we are providing for Internet development?"
- Going to Miss Google, says Keso, a popular Chinese IT blogger, whose post is shown translated at China Hush. "To me, Google has the world's best knowledge management tools and productivity tools. But China's regulatory authorities do not think so. Ideology is what they are more concerned with. I believe Google's statement will be seen as an ideological trick, which will anger the Chinese government even more."
- Disingenuous The chief design officer of China's top search engine, Baidu, says "the tone of the top Google legal advisor disgusts me." His explanation, translated to English at Chinese media blog EastSouthWestNorth:
He could have said that they are withdrawing for economic reasons, plain and simple. Instead, they have to make themselves look good by saying that Google was attacked by Chinese people, that Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents were attacked, and so on in order to explain why they are withdrawing from China. This type of tone is an insult to the intelligence of the ordinary Chinese citizens. But it may just appeal to certain supercilious westerners who have never been to China, know nothing whatsoever about China but like to say criticize China all the same.
- 'Psychological Warfare,' Chinese blogger Xiang Ligang dubs Google's ultimatum. "It is unlikely that they will go through with this. If they go through with it, it will be their loss." He also adds, regarding Google's clash with the Chinese government, "For the Chinese people, we are more sophisticated in our thinking and we can appreciate what different segments of people think. But this is hard for Americans to deal with." Jiang Baijing at People's Net is likewise skeptical of Google's intent to withdraw. "Google is just throwing a 'hissy fit' now!" writes Baijing, echoing a familiar argument that Google cannot afford to give up the Chinese market.
- Twitter Love for Google Twitter has little but support for Google in the conflict, although Rebecca MacKinnon, former Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong's Journalism and Media Studies Centre, points out that the Chinese "twittersphere" is made up "exclusively of people who are tech savvy enough to know how to get around censorship or they wouldn't be there." Some of the more dramatic tweets, translated at China Digital Times, include Lyooo's "if Google leaves I won't use Baidu or let my children or grandchildren use it (If I have them)," miyafan's "Now begin doing two tasks 1. Quickly use Google to search censored material 2. study how to scale the wall," and tomwng's "The real excellent enterprises all consider advancing human civilization as their own responsibility. For those on the other side, they not only draw the line, but also harshly condemn! Google says no to the Chinese government--this should be written into human history."