Google is "America's British East India Company"

11 March 2011

By Jim Berkeley

An editorial posted on more than 300 Chinese news sites accuses Google of promoting American hegemony, comparing its role with that of the East India Company in extending Britain's Imperial reach. China Media Project translates:

When a number of countries in the Middle East experienced signs of instability due to inflation and other problems, Google immediately went on the offensive, even allowing a senior company manager to directly establish the online general headquarters of the anti-government movement, fostering successive protest movements and nakedly interfering with the internal politics of other nations. These actions of Google's are astonishing, and they lead people naturally to recall the British East India Company.

In the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, the British East India Company, through the monopolization of trade, the sale of opium and open plunder, accomplished great works for England in its development of an "empire on which the sun never sets." Marx once said concerning the British East India Company that there was a 200-year history of the British government carrying out wars in the name of this company, until this reached the natural boundaries of India.

In the colonial era, the British East India Company used the monopolization of trade in the colonies to traffic opium and assist Britain in building its hegemony. In the Internet era, Google uses its monopoly of Internet information search to traffic American values and assist American in building its hegemony.

Historian Jeremiah Jenne takes issue with this interpretation:

Few events from the 19th century have such a grip on Chinese indignation as the Opium Wars of 1840-1842. In PRC historiography, the unequal treaties forced upon the Qing government at the end of the war mark both the start of the modern era and a "century of humiliation." Patriotic education, media, and movies reinforce this emotionally charged linkage of drugs, violence, and forced submission in the collective consciousness .

Obviously though, the piece is a rather clumsy attempt to reinforce the image of Google as a de facto arm of the US government. Never mind that Google doesn't operate under royal charter, the key is for the author to say the words "opium" and "Google" as many times as possible and then have his essay posted to as many sites as the People's Daily editors can manage.

LinkedIn Blocked in Parts of China; Investigation Under Way

LinkedIn is apparently the latest victim of the Great Firewall. From Bloomberg:

China, the world's largest Internet market with 457 million Web users, has shut out sites such as those operated by Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google Inc.'s YouTube since 2009 to block the flow of information on politically sensitive subjects. LinkedIn's focus on business professionals seeking jobs has shielded it from the same fate as those sites.

"We can confirm that access to LinkedIn is being blocked for some in China, and we are currently in the process of investigating the situation further," Hani Durzy, a spokesman for the Mountain View, California-based company, said in an e- mail. He didn't elaborate on a possible cause of the service disruption.

A LinkedIn user in China this week began posting comments discussing whether to spread Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution to the Asian nation. Yesterday, the user identified online as "Jasmine Z" set up a group discussion called "Jasmine Voice" to discuss whether the revolutions by protesters that brought down governments in Tunisia and Egypt should be brought to China. Protesters in the two North African nations organized using the Facebook and Twitter sites that are blocked in China.



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