Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and Chief Executive of Facebook, which also owns Whatsapp and Instagram, has raised the alarm for governments in the West over China’s approach towards regulating Internet services. He labelled the expansion of Chinese model in other countries as “really dangerous” and argued that both models are based on different set of values.
“Just to be blunt about it, I think there is a model coming out of countries like China that tend to have very different values than Western countries that are more democratic,” Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg tried to enter in Chinese market many times and he even learnt Mandarin for that, as, in China, he saw the next billion users for his social media and instant messaging apps. But the Chinese government blocked each one of his attempts because the Great Chinese Firewall (Censorship of the Internet) was in danger if they allowed American players.
Instead, the Chinese government promoted indigenous technology companies which were replicas of American ones, because these companies serve the Communist party and therefore are no threat to Great Chinese firewall.
Most of the Chinese technology companies are copycats of their American counterparts and rely on the theft of American intellectual property. For example, China has the Baidu search engine modeled after Google, Alibaba modeled after Amazon, Tencent modeled after Facebook, Wechat modeled after Whatsapp and the list goes on.
Almost every American Internet giant including Google, Amazon, and Facebook made several attempts to penetrate the Chinese market but the Communist government made sure that they fail by putting discriminatory regulations and censorship.
Previously, Zuckerberg has criticized the Chinese video-sharing platform TikTok over the removal of Hong Kong protest videos. TikTok is owned by a Chinese company called Bytedance and the company has a strategic partnership Chinese Communist Party’s media unit. Therefore, the platform is practically propaganda unit of the Chinese Communist Party and any content which does not suits the Chinese government’s interests would be, obviously, censored.
The founder of TikTok, Zhang Yiming, is known to be close to the Chinese Communist Party and the platform has censored the content about the torture of Uygur Muslims in the Chinese government’s re-education camps in Xinjiang province. In November last year, the Washington Post reported that Chinese tech companies “are engaged in deeply unethical behavior in Xinjiang, where their work directly supports and enables mass human rights abuses.”
Zuckerberg, to whom TikTok is also a business rival as the majority of the time earlier spent by the users on Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram is now being diverted to the video-sharing app, criticised TikTok is October last year over censorship of anti-China content. “While our services like WhatsApp are used by protesters and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy protections, on TikTok, the China-based app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the US,” Zuckerberg said. “Is that the internet we want?”
After many failed attempts to enter the Chinese market, American technology executives are now going all guns blazing after Chinese companies, with support from the Trump-led US government. For years, Chinese companies enjoyed a free pass in the Western world even as China banned American technology companies, but now with Trump at the helm of state affairs, it is time for payback.