China’s duplicity in being a technology leader…

It seems that China is trying to maintain the best of both worlds in its’ quest to be a world leader in tech and net presence…according to the New York Times article “Q&A: China’s New Internet Restrictions,? (10,29,05 -accessed Oct.28,05) the government continues to try to exercise total control in virtual space:

The government has shut down Internet cafes, jailed journalists who write about corruption, […] and–as of June 2005–required all writers of weblogs, known as blogs, to register their full identities with the government.

According to the article, China’s burgeoning internet presence is approx. 100 million, “second only to the United States’ 200 million, and experts say the number of Internet users could reach 750 million in the next few decades? (“Q&A: China’s New Internet Restrictions,? par.4).
This control is not subtle. China has dedicated a portion of its police force numbered “at some 30,000 to 50,000 people, to censoring cyberspace? (par. 6). Quite the investment in resources, but as the article suggests, the technology China has procured allows them to monitor virtually, and “hijack sessions if certain taboo keywords like ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’ are searched? ( par. 5) among other things.
It seems that ‘free world’ companies are willing to compromise their standards in order to reap some of the rewards (ie profits) from the growing Chinese economy. Microsoft has openly bowed to China’s oppressive stance by censoring blogs: “phrases including ‘human rights,’ Taiwan independence,’ and ‘demonstration’ [are] all blocked? (par. 13). If I were blogging this from China, you would not see this post.
How long will Multi-National Corporations like Microsoft cave to the pressures of such countries? When will they develop a conscience. The inconstancy here is glaringly obvious, as most of these companies are American based; born in the freedom and benefits of freedom and democracy that claims to champion the rights of freedom for the world, yet their actions are enabling, equipping, and reinforcing an oppressive regime.
This reinforces in my head the importance of open source software…These companies are not pressured by the greed for profit, as their work is offered for free.
Bloggers who are facing such oppression should get their hands on the free copy of Reporters Without Borders’ “Handbook for Bloggers and Cyber-Dissidents?. It is free to anyone, and the site is reader friendly.
The problem is, the people who need to read this most will probably not be able to access it. Thanks, microsoft and friends…

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