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September 17, 2006

The China Problem

Why do we worry about freedom in Iraq, when our government looks the other way as free speech and labor rights are ruthlessly suppressed in China?

Google took a lot of bad press (rightly) when it agreed at one point to censorship by Chinese authorities. But in some ways it's hard to blame them, when the Chinese government blocks US companies that promote free speech, even as US trade deals help build companies built on exploitation of Chinese workers or Chinese censorship. For a pure example of the latter, Just look at the dominant Chinese Internet search engine, Baidu:

Baidu is doing what no other Internet company has been able to do: clobbering Google and Yahoo in its home market...In exchange for letting censors oversee its Web site, Baidu has sealed its dominance with support from the Chinese government, which regularly blocks Google here and imposes strict rules and censorship on other foreign Internet companies.
If China blocks companies who violate its rules-- such as censorship -- why doesn't the US block goods coming into the US using labor that violates international laws protecting labor rights?

This is where "free trade" ideology exposes even its economic idiocy, since it punishes companies that live up to international norms of human rights and free speech, while rewarding companies that agree to kowtow and even take advantage of human rights violations in places like China.

Posted by Nathan at September 17, 2006 08:05 AM