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Foreign Affairs

Is The Berlin Cyber-Wall About to Fall?

Yesterday's news of Google's very public smackdown of Chinese censorship and hacking, culminating with Google's threat to pull out of China altogether, is potentially explosive news.  Let's hope it is not a bluff.  My guess is that Google has had it with Chinese government-sponsored meddling with their technology, and that what was revealed publicly is only the tip of the iceberg.  There have been rumors for a long while of Chinese government-sponsored cyber-spying not only against U.S. companies but also U.S. government intelligence agencies, and even our power grid.

We now may see a serious test of the theorem that it is possible to have a mostly market economy without democracy, or whether China, which may be an economic house of cards waiting a Japan-like collapse, will have to relent in its authoritarianism if it wishes for its prosperity to continue.  It is hard to imagine that China's growing technical class will stand for a Google-less existence.

I still remember an extremely bright Chinese exchange student I had in my Georgetown class a few years ago.  Her English was perfect, as was her writing.  But I was stunned when she said one day after class when we all went to the local pub: "I've looked at your Internet.  Everything on it about Tiananmen Square is totally wrong.  The students were killing policemen and soldiers."  Amazing they can keep this up.
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Discussions - 4 Comments

Jim Fallows is worth following on all this. http://jamesfallows.theatlantic.com/

Just a related thought. I had a conversation with a rather young Russian woman not so very long ago, and after developing a bit of friendship she asked me, "Why did you Americans want to kill us for so long?"

Turns out that Russia started building nuclear weapons because America was on the verge of crossing the Berlin wall and sacking Moscow. When I explained that we saw it rather the other way around, she politely smiled and conceeded, "Well, one of us is wrong."

And they have google.

I wonder what she thinks today.

I'm not surprised. think of some of the odd theories people in the US have.

I guess Orwell was right. Once it goes down the memory hole, anything can (and probably will) happen.

Google doesn't have the majority share of the search engine market in China, anyway. The majority engine is Chinese, so expect mass censorship to continue. The Google pull-out could make other US companies reconsider their investment in the country, but in the end, the $$ rules.

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