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July 11, 2005


Eric Olander


While i've always respected your perspective on Chinese politics, I think you are on the wrong side of the issue with regards to Cisco, Microsoft and other technology companies operating in China whose products are allegedly being used to stifle dissent and the freedom of expression.

Fundamentally, the burden of pressuring national entities such as the Chinese government can only come from other equally powerful governments. While corporations are not beyond question, one could argue that CSCO and MSFT's presence in China serve much more as a catalyst for expanding the freedom of expression through greater access to technology and technology services than whatever role they serve the PSB in stifling dissent. China, as you know, is undergoing a profound transformation where freedoms are steadily expanding and even though CSCO equipment is allegedly being used for oppressive means, on balance Chinese civil liberties are steadily, albeit slowly, moving closer to international norms.

Missing from your critique is outrage that the Bush administration has relegated human rights to a secondary status in its dialogue with China. Regretably, this is yet another instance of how the international human rights community is once again missing the big picture in China while avoiding the real failure in Washington's misguided China policies.


Eric Olander

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