Thursday, September 15, 2005

We Are So Screwed - It's China Stupid

While President Small Bladder sets his $200 billion corporate relief package in motion along the Gulf Coast, I am reminded that the United States has problems on a global scale unprecidented in our history.

We have few allies and even fewer friends. Our impotence in both Iraq and New Orleans gives far more aid and comfort to our enemies than all the nation's liberals, gays and Cindy Sheehan combined.

More critically, we are failing on a global basis in dealing with other nations. In South America we have managed to align ourselves with the shadowy forces working to topple a popular and democratically elected president. And, when that doesn't work out so well, a major supporter of President Bush suggests that we just off the son of a bitch and get it over with.

In Asia, we have become a non-entity. Our priorities matter little as China's economic acendency eclipses our influence.

I have a real hard spot when it comes to China. As a charter member of the "Cold Warriors", I grew up in a society that was taught to mistrust the excesses of communist dictatorships. China, for all the glitter and economic development, is a dictatorship. The power of the state given to a ruling clique and withheld from the people. (Sort of like a Florida election, but on a larger scale.)

Max Boot in the Los Angeles Times makes an interesting point regarding our largest creditor and key Wal-Mart supplier.

"IMAGINE WHAT would have happened if during the 1980s an American communications company had provided information that allowed the South African government to track down and imprison an anti-apartheid activist. That is pretty much the moral equivalent of what Yahoo has just done in China in the case of journalist Shi Tao. And the California-based Web giant deserves the same kind of public opprobrium that would have fallen on any Western firm that dared to publicly cooperate with the enforcers of apartheid."

Boot is refering to the Shi's ten year prison sentence for sending an email that described the Chinese government's propaganda directives regarding Chinese newspaper coverage of the 15th anniverary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. The Chinese government was able to identify Shi, thanks to the efforts of American search engine giant, Yahoo.

"Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang breezily defended his company's role: "To be doing business in China, or anywhere else in the world, we have to comply with local law." I wonder how far Yang would take that logic. What if local law required Yahoo to cooperate in strictly separating races? Or the rounding up and extermination of a certain race? Or the stoning of homosexuals? Would Yang eagerly do the government's bidding in those cases too?"

China is a repressive state that happens to be the world's largest economic opportunity. So....American companies look the other way and pretend that hundreds of thousands of political prisoners are a Chinese problem and not a cause for concern. As Boot points out, liberal America was outraged by apartheid and racial repression in South Africa. Where is the outrage concerning not only China's pathetic record regarding human rights, but outrage regarding the roll of American companies in actively supporting those human rights abuses.

"So this is the kind of regime whose laws Yahoo shows such great respect for. Unfortunately, its conduct is not out of the ordinary, either for it or for other American media firms operating in China. They all eagerly kowtow to a despicable police state.

Yahoo, Google, MSN and other Web search engines have agreed to block searches in China involving words such as "Tibetan independence" or "human rights." Bloggers can't post messages involving "democracy" or other "dangerous" concepts. Rupert Murdoch's Star TV has agreed not to carry BBC news or other information that the Chinese government might not like. Cisco has sold Beijing thousands of routers programmed to monitor Internet usage and flag for the secret police any "subversive" sentiments.

There is a theory that greater access to information technology will further freedom in China. The reality is that the communist oligarchy is adroitly using the Internet to increase its level of control with the help of its American business partners."

During the Cold War, the United States made sure the Soviet Union did not have easy access to the levels of technology that are now handed over to China on a daily basis by American companies. The latest semiconductor technology....there's an Intel plant. The latest in avionics or aeronautical fabrication technology....there's a Boeing partner. Handed to China in return for low cost goods and the purchase of U.S. Treasury bonds.

For three decades the United States managed to make Lenin's famous quote a lie. Today, our China policy could have been written by Lenin"

"The Capitalists will sell us the rope with which we will hang them."

When is the United States government going to be taken away from the petulent children and returned to the control of the adults?