I have heard from many people who have a harsher view of Hillary Clinton's "Internet freedom" speech that I expressed earlier. Part of the explanation, and I say this respectfully but with an edge, is that these people may not have heard as many Secretary of State speeches as I have. Usually such utterances have no apparent architecture or thought-content whatsoever. The standard transition is, "Turning now to Africa..." To have as much structure as Sec. Clinton's speech did -- to emphasize the obvious-but-rarely-made-by-politicians point that the Internet is simultaneously an opportunity and a peril; to try to enumerate the specific areas both of opportunity and of peril; to attempt, at least, the rhetorical trope of "Four Freedoms" of the Internet age; and again to attempt to make the connection between political freedom of expression and long term development of a society -- this is not nothing. To anyone disgruntled by this speech, I say: show me a speech by a sitting Secretary of State in recent times that is substantially better or more logically coherent. (George Marshall's speech unveiling what became the Marshall Plan does not count.) Graded in the only way that makes sense -- against other presentations of its kind -- it was an impressive piece of work.
Now... did it say exactly what the United States would do about practices it objects to, in China or elsewhere? Did it resolve other contradictions? No. And, of course not. Again, if you're unhappy about this, you need to be exposed to more sitting-official speeches! Is it likely to help Google's cause? No -- as I pointed out! But rather than go much farther down that path, let me cite a message from a "Chinese-American-Canadian" reader who heard the speech in Shanghai and makes some sensible points:
"From my vantage point in Shanghai, I can say that the news of Google possibly leaving the country was briefly a topic of discussion several days ago but hasn't been brought up since. My prediction is that, if Google leaves, Baidu will temporarily monopolize the market before facing competition from a domestic startup. Yes, Google will take a lot of top computer science talent along with it, but top talent will continue returning to the mainland from overseas to make up for the brain drain. And I don't think Google's departure will significantly impact the ability of Chinese people to circumvent censorship or government repression, as there are dozens of sites and forums discussing Party mishaps and injustices that are officially censored in the state news organs.