Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao has sent red caps with the words “Make Wall Great Again” to Google to protest its tentative plans to introduce a censored search engine in China.

Photo: Badiucao.

Badiucao – a pseudonym adopted by the Chinese-born artist and activist, who now lives abroad – told HKFP that he sent about a dozen red caps to random Google employees. He also left another dozen on sculptures around Google’s US headquarters, and sent a pack of 50 caps to Google’s visitor shop.

An Android sculpture at Google’s HQ. Photo: Badiucao.

Badiucao, who is linking with HKFP for his first international solo exhibition in Hong Kong next month, said the caps were a response to the search giant’s potential re-entry into China: “I want [Google] to know it is a mistake to collaborate with China’s censorship. It is as shameful as Trump’s wall, only this time it is an invisible wall online – the great firewall.”

Google CEO Sundar Pichai said on Monday that “it was important to explore” the possibility of running a search engine in China, the first time that Google executives confirmed the project’s existence. Pichai said the project – codenamed Project Dragonfly – was able to serve over 99 percent of search queries despite having to comply with Chinese censorship laws.

The red caps were first created as part of a cartoon and later as physical merchandise.

Sundar Pichai. Photo: Maurizio Pesce, via Flickr.

“When Google left the Chinese market years ago, a lot people [applauded] its principle of defending free speech. But now, with the Dragonfly program and its CEO defending the program, it only left deep disappointment and fear of the consequences of this super [corporation’s] submission to a brutal regime,” the artist said.

Badiucao said he also tried to interview Google employees about the project, but most declined to comment and did not accept his caps. However, he said he spoke to some Chinese employees at Google who appeared to support the censored search engine.

“I hope [Pichai] will receive the message. If Google wants to help China or Chinese people, it should help us to fight and defeat the censorship system instead of becoming a part of it,” he added.

Photo: Badiucao.

As for the message on his cap, Badiucao said he decided on “Make Wall Great Again” because of its double reference: first to China’s censorship system, nicknamed the great firewall, as well as to Trump’s slogan.

“For me the Trump cap is the crown of shame… Giving something similar to Google is the best ironic thing I can do in the USA.”

HKFP has reached out to Google for comment.

Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.