Free Speech in China

This topic has only a peripheral connection to Hong Kong. Hong Kong, though, is a part of China so I’m taking a blogger’s prerogative and saying a few words about the imposition of censoring on web sites hosted by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.

As a U.S. citizen, I am upset at the recent posturing of politicians and others about censorship in China. Think “Patriot Act” under which the U.S. government can, without a court order, access citizens’ e-mails, browsing history, phone calls, library book check outs and garbage to determine if they are a threat to the U.S. Should these same companies be brought to task for adhering to U.S. law? Of course not, but they are excoriated for following the law of the land in China.

Yes, China censors the internet. Do I agree with censoring, no! That’s one of the reasons I live in Hong Kong not Shanghai or some other Chinese city. The Saudi Arabian government airbrushes the covers of magazines and cuts articles out of the content. Should the publishers refuse to sell their magazines in Saudi Arabia?

What we have here is a double standard. These three companies are being held to a higher standard for their China operations than they are for their U.S. operations. They are being held to a higher standard than other companies doing business in China. The minimum wage in the U.S. is over $5.00 an hour. Should U.S. companies in China pay the U.S. minimum wage?

Members of Congress, whose institution has proven to be as corrupt as anything in China, issuing self-serving statements about, “being able to sleep at night,” is ludicrous on the surface. How do Members of Congress sleep at night knowing what they know about their own organization?

China has a number of laws I don’t like or agree with. The U.S. has a number of laws I don’t like or agree with. The Middle East has a number of customs I don’t like or agree with. Can I decide which laws, customs and societal norms I will adhere to or not adhere to if I’m visiting or doing business in these places. Of course not.

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft make a convenient target for the muckrakers. Star Network in China self-censors their news so they can continue to broadcast there. Who owns Star? The same people who own the Fox Network in the U.S. If the Chinese Government doesn’t like something on CNN, they stop the transmission and start again when the offending material is finished. Is anyone suggesting that CNN stop broadcasting in China?

If the goal is to change the world for the better, the U.S. must be part of the world. It can’t decide that everyone must play by its rules. That’s the kind of thinking that gets the U.S. embroiled where it has no business being embroiled. All that’s necessary is to be fair and treat others, no matter how wrong someone may think their way of doing things is, with the same respect we want for ourselves.