EXCLUSIVE: Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai Conspired to Force Google Out of China


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Flowers on the Google logo at its China headquarters in 2010


A card, a letter and flowers are placed on the Google logo at its China headquarters building in 
Beijing, China, on March 23, 2010, the day Google announced its intention to close its Chinese-language search engine in mainland China. A new report documents how Zhou Yongkang and Bo Xilai conspired with the Chinese search engine Baidu to use the Internet to attack their opponents. The price Zhou and Bo were willing to pay: Get Google out of China. (Feng Li/Getty Images)


When Google left mainland China in January 2010, it was pushed out. The search engine giant was a casualty of the struggle over succession in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), according to exclusive information provided by a high-ranking government official in Beijing.
The campaign against Google was launched in March, 2009 at the Honglou Hotel in Beijing. The annual National People’s Congress meetings were taking place at that time.
Bo Xilai, then the Party chief in the province-level city of Chongqing in central-western China, had arranged a meeting with Li Yanhong, the chairman of the Chinese search engine Baidu, through Baidu’s regional manager in Chongqing, Jiang Zhi.


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Bo brought up helping Baidu fight off its main competitor, Google, and gain a monopoly in the Chinese-language search engine market. Jiang Zhi recalled that Li bowed to Bo right on the spot.
Bo was willing to promise that Google would be thrust out of China, but a quid quo pro was involved. Bo needed Baidu to cooperate with Chongqing officials and lift the censorship on articles criticizing Party head Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, and presumptive next Party head Xi Jinping. The articles would be published on websites outside China favoring former Party head Jiang Zemin.
The articles targeting Xi were especially important, Bo said. Li agreed.

Factional Struggle

Bo Xilai is a member of the CCP faction loyal to Jiang Zemin. That faction has been locked in a ten-year-long struggle with the faction headed by Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao for dominance in the CCP.
Other leading members of Jiang’s faction include: Zeng Qinghong, the head of the National People’s Congress and the owner of the Honglou Hotel where Bo met Li; Zhou Yongkang, the head of the powerful Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), which controls nearly all aspects of law enforcement in China; and Luo Gan, the head of the PLAC immediately prior to Zhou.
The members of Jiang’s faction are tied together by their guilt for crimes committed against Falun Gong practitioners during the persecution Jiang Zemin began in July, 1999. According to analysts, the power struggle with Hu and Wen has been driven by the fear of the members of the Jiang faction that they will be held accountable for their crimes.
After Chongqing’s deputy mayor and former police chief Wang Lijun fled to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6, he blew open a conspiracy by Jiang’s faction to oust Xi Jinping after he became Party leader.
Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon reported a U.S. government official as saying that Wang provided information that Bo and Zhou planned to upset the smooth transition from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping. The dissident website Boxun reported that Bo and Zhou planned a coup after Xi took power.
If Bo became head of the CCP, that would solve the problem facing the Jiang faction. Bo, who has been sued 13 times outside China for crimes against humanity and genocide in connection with atrocities committed against Falun Gong practitioners, could never hold accountable other Party members for such crimes.
Bo and Zhou joined forces in the campaign against Google, in an effort to use information warfare to damage Xi and his allies.

Pornography Accusations

After the meeting between Bo and Li in March, careful preparations were laid. The first attempt to drive Google out involved accusations that the search engine provided access to pornography.
On June 18, 2009, the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center, an organization with close ties to Baidu, released an article titled Strongly Condemn the Sexually Provocative and Indecent Information Spread by Google.
The article criticizes Google China for containing “a large amount of pornographic and indecent information” and supposedly causing “pornographic content from outside China to spread inside our country through Google.”
On the same afternoon, Zhou Yongkang directed the Public Security Bureau to meet with the director of Google’s China business. At the meeting, the claim that Google was responsible for the circulation of pornography on China’s Internet was brought up and plans for punishing the company were announced. Google was informed that the display of websites outside China as well as associated content were banned from searches on Google in China.
Continued on the next page: Ministry of Public Security was not mentioned
When the Chinese regime mouthpiece Xinhua published the news, the ministry of Public Security was not mentioned, and the agency that met with Google was referred to as the “relevant department.”
Also on June 18 China’s CCTV broadcast a program commenting on Google’s supposed publication of pornography, which immediately inspired a good deal of skepticism and resentment among viewers.
Netizens posted comments online saying they believed it was a frame-up against Google. Some said that Google’s competitor Baidu must be the one behind it.
There were also people who suspected that the incident was intended to help shape public opinion to favor the development of Green Dam, the content-control software.


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Some netizens did extensive research and found out that the interviewee in the CCTV program about Google who claimed to be a college student named Gao Ye was actually an intern at CCTV, which confirmed netizens’ suspicions that the program was a set up.
On June 21, Zhu Guang, the spokesperson for Baidu, indicated during an interview with China Computer World that Baidu had nothing to do with the criticism against Google, and that Baidu refused to make any comment on the incident.
On June 25, the Beijing Online News Information Council held its third annual meeting and condemned the reports from outside China criticizing the punishment of Google.
In July a story spread widely on the internet that a pregnant teenage student from the No.7 Jiannan Middle School in Shanghai was forced to breast-feed four male students.
The Chinese regime declared that the spread of such news was related to Google importing indecent websites from outside China. Also, an investment of 41,700,000 yuan (US $6.6 million) to improve the information blockade software called the Green Dam was announced.
Savvy netizens discovered that the No.7 Jiannan Middle School never existed, and that the news image had been Photoshopped.
Responding to Netizens’ complaints, Wen Jiabao and Xi Jinping both gave instructions demanding that the relationship between international Internet media and the Chinese government be handled properly, and the Google pornography incident petered out.
The pornography accusations did not seem to turn the Chinese people against Google. Nanfang Daily published an online survey on Jan. 14, 2010, showing that 84.5 percent of the 230,000 people who took part indicated they didn’t want to see Google withdraw from China.

Bribery and Defamation

After Wen Jiabao and Xi Jinping put a stop to the criticism of Google regarding pornography, Badiu CEO Li Yanhong was very unhappy and felt insecure. In July 2009, Baidu no longer allowed news slandering Xi Jinping to appear in search results.
Bo Xilai had another idea for enticing Baidu’s cooperation in his plan. He had conducted a campaign called “Hit the Black” in Chongqing. While this campaign was touted for suppressing the mafia, critics have said Bo used it as a way to seize the wealth and assets of respectable businessmen.
Bo instructed four enterprises in Chongqing to give money they obtained from the “Hit the Black” campaign to Baidu, in the name of supporting Baidu’s search service. These four enterprises contributed a total of 230 million yuan (US$36 million) to Baidu, as of the end of 2009.
In early October 2009, Bo talked to the vice president of Baidu’s Chongqing branch, Zhang Fengqi, and asked her to relay the message to Li Yanhong: “I have a way. Google will definitely withdraw from China.”
In October 2009, Baidu again unblocked the negative news about Xi Jinping.

Hacking Google

In mid-December 2009, hackers in China attacked Google’s Gmail, and stole Google’s intellectual property.The hackers were acting under the direction of Zhou Yongkang.
In order to mislead the public the hackers also attacked 20 other companies in the areas of finance, science and technology, communications, and chemistry. Hackers also invaded the Gmail accounts of many human rights activists.
Google insiders said that the hacking method was very complicated. According to the BBC, the hackers took advantage of a loophole in Internet Explorer to attack Gmail.
Google did not specify that the attack was launched by the Communist Party, but Google engineers traced the attack to Chinese state agencies.
In the face of such hostile attacks and intimidation, Google did not give in. On Jan. 12, 2010, Google published on its official blog a statement titled A new approach to China, the Chinese version of which was published on March 23 at midnight.
“We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn,” Google wrote, “and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.”
The Google statement discussed uncovering the hacking of “at least 20 other large companies” and of the Gmail accounts of human rights activists.
“These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered—combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web—have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China,” Google wrote. “We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn.”
On June 29, Google announced that they were automatically redirecting everyone using Google.cn to Google.com.hk, the Hong Kong search engine that provides uncensored search. Google had formally withdrawn its core business from China.
On Jan 13, the day after Google first announced its new approach to China, Baidu’s chief product designer Sun Yunfeng wrote a post titled About Google Leaving China on his personal blog. The post was forwarded widely with the subject line “Google Disgusts Me.”
Sun described Google as an unethical business that only left the Chinese market for economic benefit. He said the objection to the hacking of the Gmail accounts was a pretext for what was a profit-driven decision. This is what made him “disgusted” by Google.
After attracting much commentary, Sun deleted the post. Re-posted entries were also removed one after another. Baidu is believed to have been behind the removal, due to various pressures it received.
Continued on the next page: Zhou and Bo directed state media outlets …
At the same time, Zhou and Bo directed state media outlets to widely publish articles about Google leaving for economic benefit. Such information also penetrated Chinese-language and English media outside China. As a result, global public opinion on Google’s departure was distracted from what had actually happened.
Since then, Baidu has successfully grabbed the market share abandoned by Google.

Online Campaign

In March 2010 Bo Xilai and Zhou Yongkang arranged another meeting with Li Yanhong. According to investigative reports by the CCP’s Committee for Disciplinary Inspection, they came up with a “very detailed plan to achieve a powerful online campaign against Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Xi Jinping.”
Baidu still preserves a policy of blocking negative information when searching for Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, and Xi Jinping in Chinese, according to a statement provided to the Committee of Disciplinary Inspection. But negative information can be found when searching for “hujintao,” “wenjiabao,” and “xijinping” written directly in Pinyin.


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Articles that have appeared on the search list include “Hu Jintao’s Son Terribly Corrupt, Jiang Zemin Wants to Get to the Bottom Of It,” and “Xi Jinping is a Lecher, Plays With Women in Zhejiang Behind his Second Wife,” and so on.

Every day after 1 a.m. Beijing time, Baidu News, Baidu Zhidao (Baidu Ask), Baidu Tieba (Baidu Post) and Baidu Kongjian (Baidu Space) will be filled with negative information about Hu, Wen, and Xi. Questions are raised and answers provided, with photo evidence, that attract netizen’s comments.
Then around 8 a.m., all negative reports disappear. Sometimes if one types Hu, Wen or Xi’s name in Baidu, it even leads to a page of “no search results available.”

Many netizens and celebrities deceived by Baidu’s posting of negative articles on the CCP leaders have cheered on microblogs the search engine’s openness. But these posts are deleted immediately by host websites. Internet spies hired by Bo and Zhou declared that the reason for the removal was pressure from a “relevant department.”

Bo and Zhou successfully used the plan of widely spreading rumors on Baidu’s community services involving cases of corruption committed by Hu Jintao’s son Hu Haifeng and Wen Jiabao’s son Wen Yunsong and allegations that Xi Jinping’s daughter has sexual relations with several western men. Chinese netizens have become very familiar with these charges.

Since the Wang Lijun incident, Hu and Wen have tightened control over Zhou and Bo—both are currently under investigation by the Party, and many of the insiders behind the conspiracy plotted by Zhou, Bo, and Baidu have surfaced.

Propaganda Minister Li Changchun, however, remains a solid supporter of Baidu. In a meeting among members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, Li Changchun said that “Baidu is China’s national brand on the Internet. Its reputation must not be tarnished.” Zeng Qinghong and Zhang Dejiang, who was appointed to take Bo Xilai’s place in Chongqing, were also at the meeting and supported Li’s view.
At that meeting, Hu, Wen, and Xi insisted on initiating a “cleanup” of Baidu, but Li suggested that rumors should be traced to their sources.

As a result, on March 31 Xinhua reported that nearly a thousand individuals accused of spreading rumors were arrested for posting on microblogs on Sina and QQ.com. Major web portals were “criticized and punished,” with Sina Weibo, for instance, disabling its comment function for four days while it did required “centralization and clean up” work. This dent in the activity in the web portals worked to the competitive advantage of Baidu.

Recently, Hu and Wen’s followers have expanded their influence inside Baidu. Censored words like “Shen Yun Performing Arts,” “June 4,” “Falun Gong,” “organ harvesting,” the so-called “Tiananmen self-immolations,” “Bo Xilai and his wife’s crimes,” and “Zhou Yongkang’s dark background” were temporarily unblocked.
Preliminary preparations for a thorough investigation of Baidu have been made. An insider from the Committee for Disciplinary Inspection said: “To put it one way, the pressure of cleaning up Baidu is bigger than that of investigating Bo Xilai. If not handled well, some officials will lose their jobs, and it risks provoking regional bosses.” These words, to people who know China’s Internet from behind the scenes, are enormously significant.
Read the original Chinese article.
chinareports@epochtimes.com


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