The online debate before and after the dismissal of Bo Xilai, has put Chinese internet companies firmly in the limelight. Baidu‘s director international communication Kaiser Kuo explains how they deal with their customers and a often opaque internet law in the Voice of America and The World.
The Voice of America:
Kaiser Kuo, director of international communication for Baidu.com, China’s most used search engine, says Chinese Internet firms serve two masters – the government and consumers.
“None of these Internet companies labors under the illusion that people prefer censored search results, but at the same time, we are multiple stakeholder companies,” Kuo said. “We are obliged to obey the law in China, and we are also sort of compelled to explore the elasticity of our boundaries. So, it is tough.”
Kuo says the developing Internet in China represents two opposing forces to him.
“On the one hand, you have this ratcheting up of controls, but in the same period essentially, you’ve seen the Internet develop into a full-fledged, or mostly fully-fledged, public sphere in Chinese life. This is unprecedented. There’s never been a time in China’s history where there’s been a comparably large and impactful public sphere,” Kuo said.
And he adds in The World:
“I think it’s clear that the whole process [of Bo Xilai’s dismissal] would have been a whole lot more opaque, that this really did shoot a lot of holes in the roof and allow a lot of sunlight in,” said Kaiser Kuo, director of international communications for China’s leading search engine, Baidu.
He added that China’s leaders have conflicted feelings about the role the internet plays these days in China.
“There is almost immeasurable amount of economic gain China has realized as a result of rolling out the internet, of being so aggressive in doing so,” Kuo said.
But at the same time, all those Chinese online means public opinion takes on a life of its own, especially at times like these.
“There’s never been a time in China’s history where there has been a comparably large and impactful public sphere,” according to Kuo. “It is now driving, in many ways, the entire national dialogue.”
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