Image credit: New America Foundation.
Remember when Google came to China and everyone was all pissed off at them for capitulating to censorship by an authoritarian regime and it was a bit of a public relations nightmare for the ‘do no evil’ corporation? Well Google obviously thinks their critics have forgiven and forgotten, because now they’re apparently building links with North Korea.
Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt will soon be travelling to North Korea, on a “private, humanitarian mission” led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, according to NKNews.
Although North Korea remains cut off from the internet and an unlikely market for Google in the short to medium-term, it’s possible that Schmidt might be attempting to sow seeds that might ultimately help open a new market. Indeed, Schmidt has long been a vocal advocate of providing people around the world with Internet access and technology,
“The spread of mobile phones and new forms of connectivity offer us the prospect of connecting everybody…When that happens, connectivity can revolutionize every aspect of society: politically, socially, economically.”
With the timing of the visit coming just weeks after the arrest of U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae others have suggested that the main objective of the delegation is to release the detained American. Previous detainees have been “freed” by high profile delegations led by former Presidents like Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter.
Hopefully Schmidt’s trip is unrelated to his work at Google, it’s bad enough that the Kempinski hotel chain turned collaborationist and helped the DPRK finish Kim Jong-il’s monument to overcompensation, the Ryugyong Hotel, let alone the murderous Kim regime get even a whiff of Google’s billions.
The US State Department has quashed Schmidt and Richardson’s planned visit: As Doug Pierce points out in the comments below, though the State Department certainly isn’t happy about Schmidt’s proposed trip, it doesn’t have any power to compel the Google executive to cancel it.
With regard to the trip, we are obviously aware of the trip that has been announced for Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Governor Richardson. As you know, they are private citizens. They are traveling in an unofficial capacity. They are not going to be accompanied by any U.S. officials. They are not carrying any messages from us. Frankly, we don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful, but they are private citizens and they are making their own decisions. [Emphasis added]