From what I’ve learned, when Mao died, many Chinese were tired of the Communists because of the Cultural Revolution. If Deng Xiaoping hadn’t introduced a market economy resulting in decades of growth and prosperity, China may have fallen into chaos to emerge with a dictator similar to what they had with the Kuomintang.
Nicholas Kristof wrote, China & Google (New York Times, March 24, 2010), an opinion piece that gets closer to the truth about China. Kristof seems to know what he is talking about when he said, “They (ordinary Chinese) don’t gripe a lot about the regime imprisoning dissidents, who mostly have a negligible following around the country.”
It’s probably true that many in China want to have free access to the Internet, but I doubt it is serious enough to cause concern. The biggest concern is raising the standard of living for the 800 million rural Chinese who have not cashed in on the prosperity.
When there are accusations from Washington that China isn’t playing fair with currency control, China has a choice. Give in and wait for hundreds of millions of unhappy Chinese to rebel or stand firm and continue to grow the economy.
As far as Google is concerned, China has Baidu (with more than 60% of the market) and shedding Google probably feels like passing gas in public.