Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, predicts that over the next decade there will be two different types of Internet: one in the US and the other in China. Schmidt shared his thoughts on the event, organized by the investment firm Village Global VC. Economist Tyler Cowen asked the question of how likely the scenario of fragmentation of the Internet over time is.
Eric replied that the most likely scenario now is not a split, but a bifurcation – a division into the Internet under the leadership of China and a non-Chinese Internet led by America. He also noted that if you look at China today, you can see the scale of the newly created companies and services. The Internet accounts for a significant percentage of China’s GDP, and this share is higher than the US, which, incidentally, is also quite big.
Ex-head of Google predicts that in the near future, Chinese IT products and services will become leaders, and therefore there is a danger that along with these products, services will also come another political regime with censorship and control. He drew attention to the Belt and Road Initiative – BRI, involving about 60 countries. On his opinion it is quite possible that these countries will start using the infrastructure that China can offer them, with some loss of freedom.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a large-scale project by Beijing to strengthen China’s political and economic influence by introducing all kinds of trade, including digital commerce, between China and the countries of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This initiative means a lot from the political and economic point of view for China and its leader. In case of its successful implementation, the Celestial Empire will become the first power of the planet, and its leader will become most influential person on Earth.
In early August, information that Google is returning to China appeared. The company left the market in 2010. The reason was the interlocks and censorship because the Chinese government strictly regulates the Internet in the country. Also, the position of the corporation was shaken by competition with the local version of Google – Baidu.
A year ago, Google launched the Dragonfly project in which engineers developed two versions of the Android search client – Maotai and Longfei. They will comply with the strict legislation and censorship policy of the PRC. There is information about another solution – a news aggregator, which is adapted to the requirements of the Chinese authorities.
According to Bloomberg, the company also plans to bring its cloud services to the market. To do this, Google even agrees to store data of Chinese users inside the country. Whether a new attempt will be successful is unclear. Google will have to re-establish relations with the authorities, as well as compete with Baidu, which controls about 80% of the search engine market. Removing its monopoly is a difficult task, but for such a giant as Google is quite possible.