Fri, Jan 15, 2010 - Page 4 News List

Google-China conflict is inevitable,Wang Dan says

PULL OUT An exiled Chinese dissident in Taiwan said he was watching to see if Yahoo would pull out of China after a possible Google pullout, starting a chain reaction


Exiled Chinese dissident Wang Dan (王丹) said yesterday that the conflict between Google and the Chinese government was unavoidable.

The global online search engine threatened to leave China in response to an attack on its computer systems last month that targeted some firms and the Gmail accounts of human rights activists in China.

“As China grows stronger economically, there will be more conflicts of values [between China and foreign companies],” Wang said in a telephone interview.

“Cyberspace has created many business opportunities, but any restrictions on Internet freedom will have a negative impact on business interests,” said Wang, a student leader during the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989.

Wang said he did not believe that Google threatened to leave China for moral reasons, but rather because of the threat to its reputation.

“In a market economy, ­reputation brings huge business benefits,” he said.

“If Google becomes the first to leave China, it would put pressure on the Chinese government over its efforts to restrict Internet freedom,” Wang said.

He also said he and his fellow dissidents were forced to change their e-mail passwords “every month” because their e-mail accounts were hacked to disseminate untrue political articles.

Wang said he was observing whether Yahoo would follow Google, triggering a chain reaction.

He said the Google incident has escalated into a “diplomatic ­incident” between China and the US, with US Secretary of State ­Hillary Clinton expressing concern.

Despite Beijing’s stringent controls, the Internet has had a growing influence in China in recent years, Wang said.

“In [the] cyberworld, citizen power has been on the rise, while state power has been on the decline,” he said.

Opposition voices from the Internet community, for example, forced the Chinese government to abandon a plan to install censorship software on personal computers, he said. Under similar pressure, a Chinese court dropped charges against a woman who killed an official that tried to rape her, he said.

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