In the Google debate, at the US side the players do not see they are losing the hearts and minds of the Chinese internet users, argues Kaiser Kuo in the Wall Street Journal. China’s nationalists are winning this fight:
“Even if it is their goal to throw open the flood gates of information freedom, I don’t think the best way to do it is to plant an American flag on that endeavor,” said Kaiser Kuo, consultant for Chinese online-video Web site Youku.com. “Anyone in China who wants to look for evidence that the U.S. wants to use the Internet to undermine the Communist Party’s rule is going to find ample evidence of this.”
Indeed, Google has been criticized in China since its Jan. 12 announcement for waging an “ideology war,” for “cultural imperialism” and for being a lapdog of the U.S. government. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned Google by name in her January speech about Internet freedom and Congress has appropriated $35 million for State Department grants to organizations that develop technology to circumvent Internet censorship.
Kuo said moves to fund the development of circumvention software to help Internet users get around blocks set up by their governments give the impression the government is funding something “that looks deliberately subsersive.”
“Is that going to win people over?” he said. “It sounds preposterous to Americans, but how can it look otherwise from Beijing? You’re just giving ammunition … making the nationalists’ argument sound a whole lot more persuasive.”