I mentioned several days ago that the Chinese government's decision to renew Google's operating license was beneficial for all parties. Good for the company; smart for the Chinese government; and encouraging in symbolic terms for users within China. "Symbolic" rather than purely practical because, before and after this decision, most search results in China are still censored -- but people willing to try hard enough can still get around the restrictions. (Explanation here.)

A Chinese friend in Shanghai, Shi Hongshen, writes about why the symbolism matters:

Agree with you that the Google's renewal of ICP license is very good news for every one. One particular goodness it brings, which i think many may have not noticed, is that it stops the spread of cynicism among many Chinese (sounds like I'm become quite old by talking like that, haha). Remember that when the Google pulling-out news first broke out months ago, many people in China become very cynical about that, mourning about the death of the hope for liberalism and complaining and mocking that our internet service is the world's largest local area network, etc, rather than thinking and talking constructively about the reality and what we should do.

In fact, over the past few years, many online communities were conquered by such cynicism. People just laugh at many sad incidents happening here (most were abuses of power on the local government side) and making fun of Premier Wen whenever he says or does something, no matter how serious he is (and I believe he is very serious). It was just so sad to see cynicism rising here, for it blocks people's mind and ability to think rationally. Hope the Google incident will really do something good to our national mentality.

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