“Ostensibly, I know you’ve all been told that you’re being brought onboard to help consult for The Echelon 2 Project. And this is accurate. It’s true we could use your expertise in suppressing the free flow of information within China’s borders and stomping out any hint of dissent or assembly that we’re able to detect within our population of 1.4 billion.”
No one blinks an eye. We know why we’ve been summoned. We all know we have particular skills and how our unique skillset can be used.
“But the truth,” Yang sighs, “is that mere suppression of information is unfortunately no longer sufficient. There needs to be, shall we say, a more proactive means of prevention.”
I raise an eyebrow.
“As you all well know,” Yang continues. “The plague of western liberalism is slowly but surely sweeping the world. Here in China, we’ve more successfully resisted its effects. But the internet is vast. Despite our glorious government’s best efforts, our citizens are increasingly being seduced by dangers like ‘democracy’ and ‘independent thought’.”
Yang shakes his head sadly.
“It may work in the west. Though I personally don’t think it has. But I’ll tell you this– as certain as the sun rises in the east, western liberalism and democracy unequivocally will not work here in China. The clear majority of our citizens still live in the rural hinterlands and are uneducated. Corruption would be rampant, even more than it already is. And society and civilization would devolve into chaos. One day, we might be ready. But today is not that day. And thus, today, freedom-loving people everywhere within our borders must be stopped. They are like a disease that threatens the health of the greater whole, all of China.”
The blonde woman speaks up. “Alright, that’s a nice speech. But can you just tell us what you’re asking for? From us? Specifically?”
Yang smiles. “Ah, Ms. Henley. Always one to cut to the chase. Very admirable.”
Hearing her name and seeing her face suddenly stokes a long-dormant neuron back in my brain somewhere. The woman in the armchair is Katherine Henley, previously a fast-rising star at the social media search giant, Foogle, back in the United States. Just less than a year ago, she’d been the media darling of Silicon Valley and on the cover of every news glossy in the Bay Area. I hadn’t followed events closely, but apparently at some point she’d made some waves, sparked controversy, and there’d transpired a spectacular fall from grace. And now here she was, it appeared, in China.
The skinny young black guy also raises his hand, speaking up. “Wait, hold up a sec. Yang, man, you made about seventeen different leaps of logic in your opening statement there. Clarify for us for a moment– why exactly are the legions of Chinese poor unworthy of voting?”