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June 14, 2005


Hans Suter

Robert, it was a kind of joke. Why don't you answer this one:"People don't generally hire government officials to keep them silent because they want to shut up but some possessing demon won't let them." ?

P. Ingemi

This sounds a lot like Carlyle's quote concerning slavery during the civil war concerning hiring by the month vs for life.

Alan Gutierrez

Gee whiz, Robert, what if the Chinese wanted you to forward the name of the posters that attempted to use the words "democracy" and "freedom" in forbidden postings to the police and the Communist Party? What if the Chinese wanted you to mantain a database of the frequency of these attempts, and retain the content of the original posting for use in investigations and prosecutions?

You'd do it wouldn't you? Are you doing it already?

It's the Chinese law you've sworn do uphold and defend.


If "not speaking freely" is a feature of the Chinese culture, why so much effort on suppressing free speech. Why the need to suppress what isn't there?


We should be sympathetic to MSN, given that it is probably trying to do its best under difficult circumstances. In the end it will provide an opportunity to large numbers of people to have access to what they may not have otherwise, though it may not be as much as they like to, for now.

I also like to add one more point to the eloguent response by our host RM, which is very insightful, and with which I fully agree. I am not sure if China is ready for the kind of free, open society we have here in this country at this point. China never has had such a system in its history. Without a strong democratic political system, and a critical mass of responsible, educated public, it may only bring confusion and chaos to many of its people.


Yes, let's continue to tilt at windmills. The naivete of the Microsoft critics astounds me. If Microsoft were to hold a hard line with the Chinese government, they would be banned entirely from the country and one forum for the exchange of ideas would be lost. (The joke of automated censorship is that it concentrates on words or phrases, not ideas. Surely no chinese dissident is so stupid as to use those words and phrases freely on any public forum, electronic or otherwise, without understanding the consequences of doing so.)

P. Ingemi

something else just hit me.

There are over 1 billion people in china. Some day they will no longer be under red rule.

What happens if those same people who suffered under that rule decide to sue companies that worked with the government ala the reparations movement in the US?

Even if you don't believe in the movement (I don't) who is to say that this won't catch on there? If I was the shareholder of a company I'd be worried.


I generally agree with Rebecca's outlook on this issue, but the reality that must be borne in mind is that the Internet, even the imperfect version that exists in China, has done more to enable liberation of the thinking of the Chinese people than any other mass communications tool invented. The people that build the routers, switches, cell phones, design email, IM, SMS clients, etc. are all in effect working to undermine the edifice of one-party rule in China, even if that is not their stated intention, the cumulative effect leads inexorably in that direction. Yes, the Chinese government can take certain measures to control aspects of Internet discourse, but ultimately they will run out of fingers to plug the holes in the GW of China dike. What would people have the Ciscos, Junipers, Microsofts do? Abandon the China market to the likes of Huawei, ZTE, et al. with their close links to the government, and a willingness to do the bidding of Beijing? The fact is that the free market, not the Chinese government, has led to the development of software and hardware tools for monitoring/filtering etc content, and all Beijing has to do is purchase the right stuff and configure it. In fact, you could take the opposite view, and applaud these companies for wiring China and allowing information to flow, it may not all be free, but as the volume grows, and there are more ways to subvert existing controls, the widening gap between state -controlled media and the "other" stuff will grow, and inquiring minds will wonder why....



I hope you don't mind but I nicked your quote about regarding the CCP more as the China Nationalist Party these days and used it in my blog in an article about free speech and democracy. Do you think that maybe one day soon they might consider changing their name to the 國民党?!?



Or to invert the argument: perhaps there is a very marked Chinaization of America in values, in journalistic norms and political views (or lack thereof). America is beginning to look a lot more like China than the other way around!

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