Sometimes it seemed, throughout the whole Google mess (and, recently, the GoDaddy mess), that China just didn't really care that much. Google isn't as big a force in China as it is in the western world, and maybe the Chinese government acted so stiffly because they're not all that concerned. But today, the Washington Post published a list of directives from the Chinese government to Chinese news sites and organizations--and they are downright scary. This is the country behind the brief blackout of a huge chunk of Internet yesterday.
First of all, the instructions make it clear that the Chinese government is indeed taking the Google situation seriously. It begins with "Google has officially announced its withdrawal from the China market. This is a high-impact incident. It has triggered netizens' discussions which are not limited to a commercial level." But the way they instruct Chinese websites to react is very scary, even scarier than the Chinese government's continued and irritating use of the word "netizens."
The first section, on news, requires that the state-run newspapers be the sole source of information for any third-party news sites. Even further, it specifically bans any "discussion," "investigation," or links to "relevant topic pages," says interviews with experts must be approved by the government, and even the title must be simply copied from the state-run newspaper. It's shocking to someone raised with freedom of the press to see such rampant abuse.
The second section, on "blogs, forums, and other interactive media sections":
1. It is not permitted to hold discussions or investigations on the Google topic.
2. Interactive sections do not recommend this topic, do not place this topic and related comments at the top.
3. All websites please clean up text, images, and sound and videos which attack the Party, State, government agencies, Internet policies with the excuse of this event.
4. All websites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which support Google, dedicate flowers to Google, ask Google to stay, cheer for Google and others have a different tune from government policy.
5. On topics related to Google, carefully manage the information in exchanges, comments and other interactive sessions.
6. Chief managers in different regions please assign specific manpower to monitor Google-related information; if there is information about mass incidents, please report it in a timely manner.
Apparently, in case the directives aren't followed, a "Monitoring and Control Group" will be called in to remedy the situation. For a country we tend to think of as competition in the coming century, it's hard to wrap our minds around just how different their press is. No wonder American companies are pulling out in droves.