A speech which was seen by many in the US as a strong step in the right direction or even as not strong enough was in fact a gift to the Chinese government.
Before Hillary Clinton’s speech, for many Chinese students the conflict was between Google and the Chinese government. After the speech, it was Google / US government vs the Chinese government – US interests vs Chinese interests. Concerns this might be the case were earlier expressed on this site here and here.
An analysis of Clinton’s words misses the point. Most of the students didn’t know them. All that mattered to the students was that the US government had aligned itself with Google and now “Google” & “US government” were synonymous. The existence of such a close partnership was not at all a stretch for Chinese students to believe since they were already very accustomed to a blurry line, if any, between government and business in their own country – often associated with corruption.