(Reuters) – The rise of social media in China will lead to liberalization, and as more and more people go online China’s government will be powerless to halt the changes, Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google Inc, said on Monday.
Speaking at a conference in London, Schmidt recalled a meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang this month, just weeks after China passed tough regulations on social media. Under new laws, people face harsh penalties if libellous “online rumors” they create are reposted more than 500 times.
“The most interesting thing about talking to the government, from the president all the way to the governors, is that they are obsessed with the Internet, which is why they passed these laws,” Schmidt told the conference, which was organized by independent policy institution Chatham House.
He did not elaborate on their conversations.