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February 19, 2006


Lee May

I fail to understand what all this charade about lack of press freedom is about China.

China is a nation that enjoys freedom of speech and freedom of the press. This is guaranteed by the constitution under Article 31.

"Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration."

Let's ask some basic legal questions. How has the Chinese government violated the constitution by censoring the Internet or controling the press?

From what I have been reading, the Chinese government had not intrude on any basic private property rights. They censor what passes through internet servers that they own. They fire dissident reporters that work for the newspaper companies that they own.

So, they have only been exercising basic ownership rights. Since when has it been unacceptable to exercise basic ownership rights?

If somebody else wants to use my computer to access the internet, I would think that I have the right to restrict the websites that he is allowed to visit because I own the computer.

If I own a news media company, I would think that I have the right to fire any reporter who tries to write a bad story about me.

Take for example, Voice of America. Do a google search for "secret prisons site:www.voa.gov". You will not find any breaking news about the secret prisons run the CIA on Voice of America. Clearly, Voice of America is a biased news source. They being owned by the US Government I am sure could obtain lots of sensitive and damaging information about the US Government and report to the world. But they don't. They serve the hands that feed them. This is only natural.

My point is all state owned media are propaganda tools. It is unrealistic to force the state to change its ways. Even if successful, it will only be shortlived.

The reason why the people in the West feels that they have greater freedom of the press is really because they have greater diversity of ownership. So if Voice of America doesn't report on a story, another news organization would. The audience gets that piece of news in the end. But when each press organization is examined individually, they are biased organization with their own agenda.

Well, actually, the US constitution never said anything about protecting freedom of speech or that it is a right. It merely state that Congress shall pass no laws that infridge on them, but it never guaranteed that those rights are accorded. Only the Supreme Court later in 1925 decided that that's what it meant. But someone else could easily interpret it literally.

As for internet censorship and why it fails, if a government owned server refuses to allow access to a particular website, then a privately owned server will do the job. So you can access them anyway.

I think that all this talk about Chinese govenrment censorship or control is failing to nail down the real issue. The real issue is a need for diversity of ownership.
The Chinese government thus far has not violated any laws or the constitution but have only been exercising basic ownership rights.

Lee May

Btw, I also want to suggest a way to help some of these Chinese dissidents.

One very effective way is to welcome more Chinese immigrants into countries such as the US. At present, there is a H1B visa quota that restricts the number of Chinese engineers that can work in the US.

By removing such restrictions, more Chinese engineers would be able to emigrate to countries that apparently enjoy greater freedom. Even if a small number returns home, they will be able to make somewhat of an impact.

Laws such as the "Chinese exclusion Act" don't help.

Also, it would be good if the US government would also allow migrant workers to emigrate. At present, the income gap between the haves and have nots is quite large as Chinese from rural areas are finding it hard to survive and had to migrate to big cities often living in very bad conditions. If the US welcomes such migrant workers, they will be able to climb the income level much faster.

It also helps to fix the trade deficit as the migrant workers from China is likely to help lower cost and US companies will no longer need to export jobs from the US to China by lowering cost, but the US can import the workers into the US instead. US Manufacturing should become competitive again if the US permits more Chinese migrant workers to enter the country.

How does all this help with promoting freedom? You are promoting freedom from poverty. To most people, freedom from poverty, or freedom to put food on the table has a higher priority than freedom of speech or freedom of the internet.

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