Granted, the situation in China might not be as severe as it is in North Korea, but when it comes to freedom of speech, the fundamental right is significantly limited in both neighboring countries.
Therefore, to expect China will respect its population’s diverse opinions on Facebook — or even unblock the website anytime soon — is as naïve as expecting Kim Jong-un to not issue a missile threat.
However, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to understand all of this, apparently.
Sure, we can’t expect Zuckerberg to talk about political affairs during his visit to China since he is not a politician. That said, the tech guru once famously said Internet connectivity is a basic human right — so he should confront the Chinese government head-on, at least once, on the issue.
But he doesn’t.
Instead, Zuckerberg makes rather obvious attempts to woo Chinese authorities that make him look a little too desperate. For instance, he once advised his employees to read Chinese President Xi Jinping’s book “The Governance of China” and, on his last trip to China, delivered a 20-minute speech in Mandarin to an audience at Tsinghua University in Beijing.
And all of this happened while the Communist Party launched one of its harshest crackdowns on freedom of religion and free speech.
In fact, as Zuckerberg jogged through Beijing without a mask, Jia Jia, a Chinese journalist who is suspected to be linked to a letter calling for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, was detained by police.
No wonder more journalists there are giving up on their career. Reporters in China are turning their backs on the profession because the ordeal they have to go through for stating the truth comes at too high a cost — disappearances, arrests, confessions wrought by torture and even death.
Even if Zuckerberg succeeds in getting access to Facebook in China, there’s no guarantee if the country’s one-party authoritarian government will not misuse it against its people, especially activists and journalists.
If Zuckerberg really believes in free speech, it’s about time he called out China over the lack of it, instead of embarrassing himself with smog jogs and speeches in clumsy Mandarin.