Does Google matter to development of China's internet?
Published: Dec 12, 2018 08:42 PM

The decision to quit the Chinese market eight years ago has cost Google golden chances in an enormous market. During Google's absence, the Chinese mainland internet has embraced exciting development and its population has swelled nearly 70 percent to 772 million. China has become a market that overseas tech firms cannot afford to ignore or let go. Whether Google comes back or not is of little influence to China's future internet development, nor will China interfere in Google's decision.

When Google chief executive Sundar Pichai testified Tuesday at the US House Judiciary Committee, he stressed there were "no plans" to launch a search engine for China, ending months of speculation. Reports since summer that Google was planning a return to the Chinese mainland market with a censored search engine app have outraged US politicians, so-called free speech advocates and human rights activists. They accused the tech giant of violating its commitment to free expression. Some even suspected China was wielding influence to make Google return.

In a column published on Bloomberg Opinion, a letter in favor of the plan with 500 Google staff signatories was interpreted as a campaign by Chinese Google employees pressured by their government in Beijing. This is nothing more than paranoid. Given a total 85,000 Google staff, it's normal and reasonable that opinions differ within the search giant.

Under reform and opening-up, China welcomes all tech companies to enter its market on condition they comply with Chinese laws and regulations.   

Suspicions of Chinese State infiltration into Google are groundless. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, it is the US that has been exerting influence on China's development. When Google entered the Chinese mainland market years ago, some American elites expected the company to challenge and change China's internet management. That failed as Beijing has firmly stuck to its own development plan based on its own situation.

Recent years have witnessed rising Chinese influence on the US. It's the inevitable result of strengthened interaction between two major powers with different cultures. China is now quite open and will unswervingly deepen reform and opening-up in the future. China welcomes Google to return here if the company is willing to abide by Chinese internet management laws and regulations, but Beijing would never interfere in Google's decision. Whether Google comes back or not doesn't matter much to China's future internet development, much as Google's departure did not really matter either.

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