Thursday, February 09, 2006

Gutman Interview at Frontpagemag.com

Dan Bloom passed me this link to an interview with Ethan Gutmann, who exposed the machinations of Cisco and others in China, in Frontpagemag today. An interesting interview.

Gutmann: In terms of arrests or crude censorship, certainly not. But Google’s decision still takes my breath away. There’ something deeply insidious about the Matrix-like world of the “New China.¨ It looks like a real Internet. Chinese ministry websites are well-designed. They look transparent and accountable. But they are neither. Discussion boards look real, even impassioned. But because people are aware of State Security’s capabilities, most of the censorship is done by the participants themselves.

The Chinese government loves that, loves self-censorship. It makes everyone a participant in a collective sense of shame and impotence – injured pride that resurfaces as rage against the US, and more recently, the Japanese. Now, for all the utilitarian rhetoric, Google is a participant too. The Chinese Communist Party must be ecstatic that they have forced such a new economy icon to its knees. They should be: in China, face matters. But, more to the point, hypocrisy matters. You won’t see the Goddess of Democracy reappear on Chinese soil, and I just had the sickening, fleeting thought that perhaps it shouldn't. Let’s put it this way: Google’s justifications almost makes me nostalgic for Cisco’s lies.

2 comments:

coconut said...

I wonder why we expect so much from Western multinationals on ethical issues. Business organizations are not democratic.To me, asking them to respect democratic values make them similar to Middle Ages' christian knights. "Corporations can make money but they should respect democratic values at all time" echoes "knights can kill but they should remember the sixth commandment stipulating "you shall not murder". This is rather schizophrenic, right?

Mark said...

The fervor about Google not providing search results for illegal material in China, just as it doesn't in other countries is absurd. Not only does Google inform the user that results are missing, it also says why. No other search engines even say anything's missing. Furthermore, in cases where the user could be harmed (imprisoned, etc...) by stored information, Google stays out of China. Gmail is one excellent example. If you really want to complain about a search company's China policies, try Yahoo.