Briefing: Eric Schmidt says China could split the internet

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China splits the internet while the U.S. dithers – TechCrunch

What happened: Eric Schmidt, former chairperson of Google’s parent company Alphabet, predicts that the internet will be split in half, with one side being led by China and the other by the US. Speaking at a private event in San Fransisco, he said that the percentage of GDP generated by the internet in China is greater than the percentage generated in the US, and drew attention to the increasing scale of Chinese companies, which have begun moving abroad.

Why it’s important: Google’s search business is rumored to be re-entering the Chinese market, though results will be filtered. The news drew the ire of the company’s employees and the general public. Additionally, Schmidt highlighted the possibility of Chinese digital hegemony that could be achieved through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the installation of internet-related infrastructure. In this way, the Chinese internet, firewall and all, could be exported to other counties around the world.