The Qianlong Emperor and Google

March 16, 2010

On Friday, March 12, the BBC reported that the Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Li Yizhong adopted a tough stance during a legislation session. “I hope that Google will abide and respect the Chinese government’s laws and regulations,” he said.  “But, if you betray Chinese laws and regulations … it means that you are unfriendly, irresponsible, and you will have to pay the consequences.”

Qianlong Emperor

Google doesn’t get it.  If they read what the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1796) wrote in his famous letter to King George the III in 1793—when China was strong enough to resist external influence—they might understand.

China is a family oriented culture, and the individual is not as important. Public freedom of expression does not fit the Confucian, Taoist foundation that begins in the family where you do not publicly criticize your elders or your leaders and expect to get away with it.

Starting with the first Opium War in 1840 until Mao won China in 1949, China was weak and was bullied by Imperial powers. Now that China is strong, they are saying “NO” as the Qianlong Emperor did.

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Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of the concubine saga, My Splendid Concubine & Our Hart. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too.

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