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CNN: Getting back to Google's motivation, you do take their "Don't be evil" motto at face value?|
Zakaria: I don't know if I take it in all places and at all times, but I do believe in this case they were motivated largely by the sense that they were undermining their values and their mission. I recognize that were this to have been churning out billions of dollars in revenue, they might not have done it. But I don't think you can make the case that there was a business motivation for this. This will clearly cost them revenue, it may not cost them a huge amount of revenue, but it will cost them.
CNN: How do we know that the hacking is being done by the Chinese government rather than by individual hackers on their own?
Zakaria: We don't know that for sure. In fact, Eric Schmidt was clear to me about that. The nature of the hacking, the coordinated elements of it, the targets, all suggest that it is something that is being done at the very least with the acquiescence or encouragement of the state. There are very few experts I've talked to who doubt that much of this has the backing of the Chinese government, but to be clear it's very difficult to tell, and there's no conclusive proof.
CNN: All of this suggests that the U.S. government has a lot at stake, and yet they don't seem to have been on the frontlines of this issue. It's a private company dealing with the Chinese government, not a government-to-government issue.
Zakaria: That's right. Washington is treading very cautiously into this, and I think correctly because this is really a dispute between China and a private company in America. The U.S. government should watch it with great interest and concern, and they should come out in favor of certain broad principles, but I don't think the U.S. government should be out there trying to open up the market for Google.
CNN: On the national security side, should the government be more active?
Zakaria: It's trying to figure out how to respond to this kind of attack, but I gather there is a fairly sustained effort now in the government. Obama has made this a top priority.
CNN: What's at stake for other American businesses that want to serve the Chinese market?
Zakaria: I think a lot is at stake, because what we're basically talking about is China's orientation, China's belief that it has to accept a global system and an open global economy, that it benefits from having foreign companies participate on an equal footing.
The more China turns inward, the more difficult it will be for American companies to find equal footing in China. The Chinese are making it increasingly clear they want to have national champions. Avatar opened in China to great success and two weeks later they basically shut it down [except for 3-D showings] and said that the movie theaters had to make way for a biopic about Confucius, and more importantly keep theaters free for Chinese-made movies.
CNN: So what can the United States do about it?
Zakaria: Washington should try to have a really sustained strategic dialogue with China, but also with our other allies, with the European countries, with Japan, and create a kind of common front for openness and greater engagement with the global system.
One of the things that has helped the global system enormously is that it had two hegemons, two global superpowers -- first Britain and then the United States -- that were very outward-oriented and shared universal values and similar conceptions of a global system, open liberal values, an open economy, a common understanding of what would make for a good global system.
If China as the great rising power turns out to be much more insular, parochial in its orientation, that would mean a much less stable, much less open world order. Think about the period of American isolationism when the United States was the rising power and it turned inward in the 1920s and 1930s. It was not good for the world.