Han Han's View on Google's Exit
|Alice Poon||Apr 1, 2010|
What Han Han said is demoralizing and sad but there is obviously some truth in it, and it is something that most people in the West may not be able to come to terms with or even grasp.
Regardless of the true reasons for Google’s decision to quit China, I agree with the view that Chinese netizens are the ones to lose out, on the technological as well as on the censorship front. But then if they themselves don’t care to fight for their own internet freedom, they can’t expect it to be handed over to them on a plate.
Here’s the original text in Chinese of Han Han’s post:-
Here’s my translation of the post:-
“Question: About Google’s exit from China, what do you have to say?
Answer: I don’t have much to say. Google is a very good company. My mobile phone has many functions that are operated by Google. If you are even slightly sensitive to news censorship and politics, you would know that whatever you say is of no use. You would be screwed for what you say and you would be fortunate if you end up only having your post deleted. When Google doesn’t want to play any more, it can retreat to Hong Kong, or even back to the United States. But as a mainland writer or media worker and you say something humanistic, where can you retreat to when you are forced to stop playing because of what you say?
As a matter of fact, Google’s public statement explaining the reasons for its opt-out decision is not well-thought-out. It says it does not want the sensitive contents to be subjected to censorship. Please note that sensitive contents here do not mean pornographic contents – the authorities have never been sensitive to pornographic contents; in fact they are already numbed about such contents. Sensitive contents mean those contents that may be hurtful to the government’s interests. But how many Chinese citizens really care about the so-called uncensored search results? These reasons that can ordinarily touch the emotions of citizens in normal countries do not seem to work in China.
China has 200 million netizens. If Google were to ask them whether they would like to access uncensored search results, I guess the answers from the 200 million minus the number of commentators would be yes. This is like buying vegetables. If you offer the buyer a little bit more than what he/she bargains for, he/she would always be happy. But if at the same time Baidu offers 10 yuans to every netizen who downloads Baidu’s newly developed “Block-Google-Search” browser, and use exclusively its “not only in compliance but in ultra compliance with Chinese laws” search engine, I think more than half of the netizens would turn their back on Google. Would the Chinese really be chasing after those precarious universal values? In their minds, chasing after those values that are important to many people may not be as expedient as chasing after a flat in a newly built project, or a new software in internet games. It is because the pressure of livelihood is so great that putting food on the table trumps all ideals. Google may have overestimated the importance of freedom, truth, justice and righteousness in the minds of a large number of netizens. These values are not nearly as practical as picking up a 100-yuan bill on the road.
Frankly, it may be more pragmatic for Google to say that it does not want to stay because it has constantly been stabbed in the back by CCTV. Those reasons that Google put forward cannot find rapport or resonate with the majority in this nation. A nation that can put up with genetically modified grains, ditch-grown vegetables, melamine-tainted milk and junk quality immunization shots – their capacity for tolerance is beyond your imagination and their needs are far more minimal than you think.”