I have recently been in communication with Ethan Gutmann, author of Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal. A chapter in his book deals with Cisco's business in China and the extent to which they actively supply Chinese law enforcement with censorship and surveillance technology. Cisco has responded to Gutmann's allegations (excerpted in the continuation section of this post below) by saying that he "doesn't have a shred of evidence" to support his claims. In response, Gutmann is offering up
this Cisco brochure from the China Information Infrastucture Expo 2002, Dec. 3-6, 2002. The first two pages of the brochure show a Cisco exhibition booth full of products clearly aimed for use by police and other public security forces. It is pictured here (and blows up to full size when you click on it, WARNING: IT'S A VERY BIG FILE) - both in the original Chinese and in English translation.
Gutmann describes what you see here as: "the first two pages of a much larger brochure that I picked up at the Cisco display at the Shanghai Gold Shield trade show. The image depicts the actual Cisco booth where I had my extended conversation with the Cisco rep, Mr. Zhou Li. I’ve included the Chinese original and a translated version provided by Harry Wu. Harry and I will share everything with anyone who is working on a serious investigation. Cisco may continue to lie about China. But we might stop them from peddling this vile technology here." (An assortment of similar material has been published in the Chinese version of his book, coming out in Taiwan and some Chinese-language U.S. bookstores this summer.)
In his book Gutmann describes a conversation with a Cisco salesman whose sales pitch included how Cisco's products help police conduct internet surveillance: "the Cisco salesman confirmed that the Chinese police could even remotely check if the suspect had built or contributed to a website in the last three months, access the suspect’s surfing history, and read his email."
I have not seen the original brochures at this point, just the photos.
But they are significant because the original brochures and other evidence have been submitted in a shareholder resolution against Cisco filed on May 31, 2005 by Boston Common Asset Management, LLC . [CORRECTION ADDED ON JULY 7, 2005. STATEMENT FROM BOSTON COMMON: "Brochures and documents pertaining to Cisco Systems that are owned by Mr. Ethan Gutmann and referenced in his book were not included in the shareholder resolution filed by Boston Common Asset Management with Cisco on May 27, 2005. Mr. Gutmann's documents were not transmitted with the resolution filing in any form and Boston Common Asset Management has not presented these documents to Cisco to date." APOLOGIES TO BOSTON COMMON FOR THE ERROR.]
In a recent speech Gutmann explains why this matters.
The real problem is that the next Tiananmen - in whatever incarnation - is much more likely to fail if Chinese citizens have to fight not only the PLA, but Cisco and Motorola, Microsoft and Intel. And this time, Americans will bear a special responsibility for that failure.
And I predict that the excuses that we hear from Cisco and Microsoft today (“Microsoft abides by the laws and regulations of each country in which it operates…" - as if the Chinese constitution forbid the word “democracy”) will be remembered as a shameful moment in U.S. corporate history.
So it’s up to us, activists, journalists, watchdogs, Congress, anyone who’s involved with China, to put pressure on American corporations; shareholder proposals; divestment from university contracts. Make a copy of this brochure and send letters, faxes, emails demanding an explanation. Tell them if the Chinese Communist Party wants to use our technology, it must pay the democracy tax.