"Wed, Jan 13, 2010 AFP - Tiananmen 'Tank Man' pic available on Google China
BEIJING, CHINA - The iconic 'Tank Man' photo taken during the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown and banned in China was available on Google.cn Wednesday, hours after the online giant vowed to defy Chinese Internet censors."
So it has come to the head! After enduring endless harassment by 'total' liberals for kowtowing to the Chinese censors in the past, Google has decided to play hard ball. It will be interesting to see how things developed from here as Google's share in China is not exactly something to crow about as the Chinese seems to prefer to use their own internet champions like Baidu.com, Sina.com, Netease.com, Alibaba.com, etc. There is not distinct advantages of using Google in China really - according to some Chinese friends - and my observation.
Lessons for me are:
1. something got to give when the censors tightened too much. It makes the internet companies or companies that make a living off the net feels victimized as they could not possibly accede to the censors' impossible demand! It is almost like 'damn if you do it and damn if you don't' situation! Too much resources would have been devoted to compliance. I believed this is what breaks the camel's back instead of the rhetoric of free speeches!;
2. in a land where it is the biggest internet nation on earth, this censorship action is just like scooping water from a leaky vessel with a small tea spoon. It is not going to work but someone has to be seen to be doing something. Of course, the main targets of censorship are those pornography sites, and some politically charged, or considered as politically sensitive, sites. The Chinese government obviously has invested a lot of money to try to police the boundariless, and some said, lawless, cyberspace information resources. I think they just have to do it by themselves without expecting providers of cyberspace real estates to do that job for them. It will make them commercially bankrupt!;
3. The 'Tank Man' photo of the Tiananmen event is an iconic picture. There is no denying it is there. It happened. Though not many know who that young man is and where is he now. The Chinese government should ease up a little and not be unduly worry about such pictures. Tiananmen incident has been discussed underground a million times. There were pros and cons of why the suppression had to take place. Even among scholars, there were differing views. It is a historical event. What will keep the government in power for a long long time is not just censorship but through its actions to provide peace, stability, and continued prosperity without corruption.
Kudos to Google for standing up to the pressure of insatiable censorship demand in China as to 'risk' pulling out of the world biggest internet users nation! Good luck.