Social media will drive a liberalisation in China’s stringent internet censorship policy, says Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt.
Speaking at a Chatham House conference in London, Schmidt said the more people use social media, the more powerless the government will be to stop them.
He referenced his meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang after the government passed a series of tough social media laws.
These included introducing harsh penalties for people who posted libellous “online rumours” that were reposted more than 500 times.
Schmidt said: “The most interesting thing about talking to the government, from the president all the way to the governors, is that they are obsessed with the Internet, which is why they passed these laws.
“You simply cannot imprison enough Chinese people when they all agree to something. You won’t be able to stop it even if you don’t like it, and it will cause a liberalisation.”
Although Facebook and Twitter are banned in China, there are alternatives that are becoming hugely popular.
We recently reported that Momo, the flirting app called the “magical tool to getting laid”, doubled its user base to 80m in four months.
Another is Weibo, a microblogging service similar to Twitter, which reached 54m daily users in July, and 503m registered accounts last December.
Google moved their offices from the Chinese mainland to Hong Kong in 2010, citing censorship as the reason.