After Google's move, it's time for the U.S. Department of State to take action.
By YANG JIANLI
Google's action is the latest in a series of events that pose the greatest challenge to the Chinese government's carefully fabricated facade of legitimacy since the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy movement. Few people in the West recognize the precarious position of the Chinese rulers. The vast majority of Chinese citizens have nothing but disdain for their government. Sixty years of repression, as well as a modicum of economic opportunity for some, have created an uneasy acquiescence. But that is changing.
Increasingly, Chinese citizens realize that a government, however corrupt, rich and powerful, cannot hold a gun to its people forever. The Internet publication of Charter 08 by leading Chinese intellectuals in December of 2008 was a seismic rupture in the facade of harmony and stability.
Although the lead author, Liu Xiaobo, has been sentenced to 11 years in prison, the Chartercontinues to circulate surreptitiously throughout China, despite attempts by the authorities to eradicate it.
Last November, noted human rights lawyer Feng Zhenghu took a stand against the illegal and pervasive practice of "blacklisting," by which the Chinese government blocks politically undesirable citizens from returning to their own country from abroad. I myself am a victim of this blacklisting. Mr. Feng held a "sit-in" for over 90 days in the customs area of Tokyo's Narita Airport in a nonviolent protest. He was sustained by Chinese supporters who traveled to him with supplies and moral support during his vigil.
Alarmed by the growing support network organized via Twitter and Facebook, the Chinese government decided to cut its losses and ?nally allowed Mr. Feng to return home to Shanghai in February. This action is the ?rst time the Chinese government has allowed a blacklisted person toreturn to China. It shows the power of the Internet to galvanize citizens around effective nonviolent action against tyranny. And it clearly reveals the vulnerability of the Chinese government and why it is so paranoid regarding an open Internet.
Google's decision has widened the crack in the Chinese government's facade of deceit. However,Google alone cannot bring down the Great Firewall. Decisive action by the U.S. government is needed to tear down this Berlin Wall of the 21st century. Speci?cally, the State Department must act now to facilitate immediate and order of magnitude scale-ups of proven field tested protocols. The money has already been appropriated by Congress. The world-wide dissident community is virtually unanimous in its support for this action.
To quote Confucius, "To see what is right and not to do it is want of courage." Google has shown us what is right. Now it's time for the State Department to show courage, not procrastination.
Dr. Yang, a former political prisoner, is a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government and president of Initiatives for China, a pro-democracy advocacy group.
——The Wall Street Journal