Initiatives for China’s Announcement on Google Search’s Retreat from China
March 22nd, 2010 － World’s largest search engine Google announces that it will stop censoring its search content in China. Rather, it will redirect users to its Hong Kong site. The deterioration in relationship between Google and Chinese authorities is indicated by several strongly worded reports issued by the State Council Information Office in China and Chinese official media against Google. Initiatives for China express regrets regarding this matter. The disagreement between Chinese authorities and Google began in January. In the past two months, Initiatives for China followed the negotiations closely and kept in contact with Google. Although aware of the difficulties in promoting progressive change in China, there was hope that negotiations might yield some developments so that Internet users in China can continue to enjoy the services of Google. Regretfully, Chinese authorities insisted adamantly to filter information, leaving Google with no alternative than to switch server in defiance of Chinese censorship. While this is a challenge to Chinese authorities, Google has practically withdrawn from its most populated market.
Google valued Internet freedom and is unable to reach a compromise with Chinese authorities. This is worthy of respect since commercial gain is rarely given up for freedom. Indisputably, access to information is necessary for the development of the Internet. However, in autocratic China, Internet users often have to reach a certain degree of compromise with the authorities in power. Hence, some freedom is compromised for room to develop. There was hope, in good faith, that this compromise will still ensure growth and development effective to address any unsatisfying social realities. However, there is a limit to this compromise. Google has made enduring efforts on its end. Its withdrawal is understandable. Initiatives for China stand by Google, against the Chinese authorities’ coercive policy of filtering and suppressing information.
For some time now, Google, as the world’s most free and powerful search engine, has contributed tremendously towards the freedom of information. It started websites like www.globalnetworkinitiative.org, which is a site dedicated to freedom of expression and Internet privacy. Google also stood against unreasonable governmental restrictions and protected the principles of basic human rights. At the beginning of March, Google sent two representatives to the 2nd Geneva summit for Human Rights, Tolerance and Democracy. The Declaration of Internet Freedom encourages the United Nations and other international organizations to support Internet freedom, starting from within their own organizational structures. In response to this, Initiative for China will act to encourage the international community to take legal actions against unreasonable censorship of the Internet by autocratic nations, as well as urge more Internet companies to safeguard Internet freedom and not bend over to autocratic authorities. We wish to stand by Google, and to work justly to safeguard freedom of expression and information.
Freedom of expression and information are the foundations of a democratic society. We have to defend these foundations to defend our basic human rights. Our lives and dreams will not be trampled upon and destroyed if we are critical and reject when boundaries are overstepped. There are no national borders on the Internet. Everyone who value freedom should unite against backwards and unreasonable Internet censorship. There cannot be regression. With the experience of history and confidence for the future, Initiatives for China strongly believe freedom will prevail against autocracy.