At the company’s China headquarters in Beijing’s university district, a dozen locals laid a bouquet of red roses and white lilies on Google’s sign at the company entrance.
They praised the company, shouting some salty Beijing slang.
“We want to express outrage, but not at Google. Coming here is a type of support for Google,” said IT worker Zhao Gang, 30.
“Google faces very strict and adverse conditions in China. Something we knew in our hearts is now out in the open. I believe it’s a watershed moment for the Internet in China this year.”
Chinese activists have long complained that China’s Communist Party has tightened its grip on the Internet, stifling the spread of information and ideas in the name of public safety and morals.
Their complaints have now been echoed by the world’s biggest Internet firm and by Washington, where Hillary Clinton said the Chinese government should explain the attacks.
With such volleys aimed at China, Internet control is sure to climb the pile of frictions between Washington and Beijing, joining economic disputes, arms sales to Taiwan and Tibet.
“The surprise isn’t the hacking or censorship. That’s everywhere here,” said Liu Ning, a writer and blogger in Beijing. “The surprise is such a big company breaking the silence about all these problems … Until now, they’ve kept quiet.”