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Google is the new opium

There are days when the state media in China just can’t help drunkenly staggering along that fine line between “self” and “self parody.”

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

Most recently, British protests over the 2009 execution of Akmal Shaikh, a Briton convicted of smuggling drugs into China, sparked a strong backlash with few commentators failing to take up the flag of resistance against a modern opium war.

Last Friday, the People’s Daily Online edition (中文) brought opium into the digital age.  CMP provides this translation:

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.

Where to start? For one thing, comparing “easy access to information and Internet porn” with “hard drugs which will kill you but only after you smoke away your family, job, and home,” is charmingly quaint hyperbole.

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.

Besides, if the CCP is worried about the deleterious effects of a drug called Google, just wait until we smuggle them some Charlie Sheen.