Surprised to find that Google had become accessible around midday Monday, Chinese mainlanders posted the news online, which went viral on social media immediately. A jubilant group of Net users assumed that it was because of some kind of agreement between the Chinese government and Google. However, later that evening, the website was blocked again, with many people speculating that the temporary access resulted from an update to the Great Firewall.
There was no government response at press time. It might not be worth figuring out what really happened, but we can be sure that US Internet giants such as Google will not stay away from the Chinese market forever. We think the Firewall is a stopgap arrangement, whose function will diminish as Chinese cyberspace becomes more developed.
Being an open society has become one of China's core beliefs, and an open Internet has been widely recognized by the people. China has no choice but to try to integrate its cyberspace with that of the international community. Given its recent activities in this area, such as hosting the World Internet Conference and actively participating in the 7th China-US Internet Forum, China is exerting itself to move in that direction.
Meanwhile, China will not allow the Internet to be a lawless territory. Along with prosperity and freedom, order and the rule of law also matter in cyberspace. Chinese social management requires activities in cyberspace to be secure to real society. This is the principle and also the bottom line of China's Internet management. The reason why Google left China was because it was unwilling to be ruled by Chinese laws and persisted in its own values. But it compromised itself in many European countries according to their laws and customs.
There doesn't have to be a faceoff between Chinese laws and US values, or information exchange between both countries wouldn't have increased so rapidly in recent years. In fact, China and the US have found more consensus on some major issues.
China's major concern rests on intended sabotage against China by the US and some Western countries through the Internet. Other than that, there is huge common ground through which Beijing and Washington can establish profound cooperation over the Internet.
We hold optimistic views about the future. China's expanding market will sway the hidebound mindsets of US Internet giants and make them adopt more realistic attitudes toward China.
Chinese society is also growing more tenacious when faced with many taboo issues. China is pushing the establishment of the rule of law, and Chinese Net users will be more law-abiding on the Internet.
Now China and the US are just getting used to each other. We believe someday, Google will return and Facebook will be allowed to access China. But how to put these things on track must be determined by both sides.