Contrary to its intentions, Google has been rather damaging than helping China’s internet reform and opening up, writes Shaun Rein in an editorial in USA Today. Reform-minded officials have been trying to give Google access to the Chinese market, and Google decided to turn their back on them:
Contrary to the way Google founder Sergey Brin makes it sound, the Chinese Internet has in fact opened up since the Olympics. The government has become less scared of content, and sites such as The Huffington Postand the BBC have been unblocked. True, sites heavy with user-generated content, such as Facebook andTwitter, are now blocked, but home-grown versions have flowered because the government feels they will follow local laws.
Google’s ultimatum — to let it stop censoring searches or it will leave— has cut reform-minded officials’ legs off at the knees, as well as strengthening the power of officials who take a dimmer view of allowing Chinese Internet users access to sites outside China.