Yesterday, Google decided to shut down its Chinese search page after a frustrating Chinese government continued to censor Google search results and hack into Google servers.
In response to China’s authoritarian approach to social control, Google redirected its Chinese site to the unregulated Honk Kong page. But a belligerent Chinese government “moved on Tuesday to block access to the Hong Kong site, the use of which Google had hoped would allow it to keep its pledge to end censorship while retaining a share of China’s fast-growing internet search market.” Understanding that the Chinese government enjoys operating via thought police, it will be interesting to see what China will look like in the next half century.
The real question becomes whether or not democracy is inherent to every culture and whether democratic values such as free speech and basic natural rights are fundamental to every human society. I would argue that democracy is not inherent to a culture, but humanity’s desire to be free most certainly is.
After Google announced that it would be shutting down its Chinese search page, people in Beijing brought flowers and chocolates and placed them at Google’s front gates as a virtual sign of mourning. People understand that access to information is an integral part of human development; it is the means of getting that access which is an obstacle to, at the very least, people in mainland China. What the “West” needs to understand is that democracy is not the be-all end-all form of government and democracy, especially forced democracy, does not always result in enjoyed freedoms and liberties.
For the United States to compete with a totalitarian Chinese market, having its private corporations combat China’s soft power is precisely the way to go about dealing with the Asian superpower. Google’s struggle to maintain the free access of free thought is just the cornerstone to a series of privatized attempts to free up China’s market and society.
I believe this is the most peaceful, legal, and practical way of going about foreign policy with China; voluntary, free enterprise approaches through a deeply regulated system will inevitably show societies how wonderful a free market is. If our private businesses continue to see a potential market in China, perhaps the U.S. government will learn a thing or two about utilizing free markets rather than dropping bombs on a country to make a people “free.” Liberty is indeed contagious.Published in