Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, said on April 30 in its Notice of 2019 Annual Meeting of Stockholders and Proxy Statement: "While Google has made progress in its understanding of the market and user needs currently there are no plans to launch Search in China."
Alphabet's statement was clearly about "Dragonfly," a search engine app that was reportedly being prototyped by Google to link Chinese users' phone numbers to their Google searches.
Dragonfly quickly became controversial in the West. Some Western elites declared it would help China commit human rights violations. US Vice President Mike Pence said in 2018 that Dragonfly would strengthen Beijing's "censorship" and "compromise the privacy of Chinese customers."
Speculation that Google is re-entering the Chinese market has been a hot topic among Western media. Some people in the West and human rights groups believe Google will violate human rights if it obeys Chinese laws. Such prejudice hinders Google from benefiting from China's flourishing internet market.
Google's withdrawal from Chinese mainland did not stop the development of the country's internet market. China's internet market has become one of the world's most robust. It has created huge space for technological development and profits. It also allows Chinese people to enjoy modernization and freedom brought by the internet.
Those who criticize China should understand this: Human rights are based on social stability and national development. Google and other internet tools have had huge negative impacts on social development, and excessive abuse of these tools has even led to social crises in many countries.
In 2018, for example, Google admitted that it gave hundreds of app developers access to its users' Gmail inbox. In Western countries, many cyber views even triggered extremism and terrorism. Aren't these all examples of human rights violations? Before blaming China, some Western elites should rethink: Will a so-called free internet, one without any effective governance, ever guarantee human rights if it has already harmed social stability?
How to maximize the advantages of the internet and minimize the disadvantages it can cause? Different countries have different social conditions and methods of governance. China has been exploring its own internet governance and has accomplished a lot.
Under the country's governance, Chinese society has reduced the negative influences brought by the internet and maintained steady development. China has enacted its Cybersecurity Law and regulations in recent years to effectively govern online services including advertising, payment and publications. These are among the most important human rights.
China needs to develop its internet, and the country's internet market is open to Google. But Google must obey Chinese laws, including China's guidelines on human rights, if it wants to enter the world's largest internet market. With or without Google, China's internet will develop on the basis of the country' own social practices.
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