LONDON — So Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are now working to help support the dictatorship of the people in China — as managed on their behalf by the Chinese Communist Party. So are most of the world’s multinational companies — as well as you (and me).
We all support the dictatorship of the CCP by trading with China, by investing in China, by taking holidays in China and by buying Chinese goods and services.
By helping the Chinese economy grow we are all helping the CCP stay in power by helping support a growing standard of living in China for the middle class and a sufficiently large part of the urban working class to ensure that thoughts of revolution are kept at bay.
Well, not completely, the People’s Armed Police (PAP) still must shoot, beat up and/or ship off to labor camps those malcontents who complain about the theft of their property or destruction of their livelihoods. This makes it easier for the winners in the economic boom to go on quietly enjoying their gains while the majority of the people suffer.
It is getting increasingly expensive for the CCP to maintain the extensive and growing reach of the ordinary police, the PAP and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). As the CCP is sworn to “peaceful development” and has no territorial ambitions other than to protect its current empire, this massive repressive machine is directed at maintaining social stability on the domestic front. So whenever we buy goods and services from China, or sell new technologies there (especially military and police equipment), we are helping maintain that “stability.”
Should this worry us? A lot of people did complain about Google, Yahoo and Microsoft’s efforts to help the CCP maintain social stability in China. Why?
Most people find it hard to accept that buying a Peking duck dinner for two with a couple of bottles of Qingdao beer, or some cheap Chinese underclothes, or an IBM computer is helping support the repressive communist regime in China. For some reason the actions of Internet companies in restricting access of ordinary Chinese people to information about their country or to political ideas that contradict or question the political beliefs of CCP members is more reprehensible.
It is easy to see why. You have to ask yourself why the CCP is so frightened about the Chinese people getting access to information about what is going on in their own country or in the world at large. Or why they worry about Chinese people having access to ideas on how the internal affairs of nation states are managed other than through brutal communist dictatorship of the minority over the majority.
Why is the CCP leadership so insecure? Do they feel that if the Chinese people had access to such information then they might come to question the legitimacy of a political system that emerged from the barrels of guns and has stayed there on that basis? Does the CCP believe that it has no answers to such questions that would hold up to critical scrutiny?
What a sad state of affairs it is when the CCP, and its agent the Chinese government, believe that after more than half a century of being brought up in a communist society the Chinese people might ask whether they would be better off under a different political system. Does the CCP really have such contempt for the rationality of its people after they have been schooled and trained by communists for so long?
Does it really think that the majority of the people of China might, after enjoying the privileges and benefits that the CCP has brought to them, say that the time has come to move on from Marxist-Leninist-Maoism (with a touch of Stalinism to spice things up) and want to try out some other system they have read about on the Internet?
Maybe they would, maybe not, but what right does the CCP have to deny them the option of making up their own minds, or simply asking questions? Some Chinese people have had access to information about what is going on in their country and have been able to read and consider the ideas of noncommunist political thinkers. Some of them have then gone on to advocate a different political system, or different political leaders from those provided by the CCP. They don’t stay free for long; they are carted off for re-education through labor.
Google, Yahoo and Microsoft and other media companies may now be ensuring that more free-thinking Chinese citizens go down the road to the Chinese Gulag. So it is right to question their actions.
But before you start feeling superior and start criticizing them, remember that when you travel on Air China to take a walk along the Great Wall, when you buy some shares in a Chinese initial public offering, when you go and see a Chinese movie or knock back a glass of Mao Tai, you are helping keep in power the same CCP that you object to the Internet companies supporting.
Does this worry you? It should. But as boycotts don’t work, we need another way forward.
The CCP wants China to play a major role on the world stage. It is already demonstrating the sort of role that it wishes to play through its support for and cooperation with tyrannical regimes such as Zimbabwe, Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Uzbekistan and Cuba.
Maybe we could reform the United Nations in a different way from those currently being considered. The CCP uses China’s veto power on the U.N. Security Council to divert attention from its repressive domestic policies and from its support of tyrannical powers abroad.
Maybe China should be removed from the Security Council until the CCP grows up, stops repressing the Chinese people and works only with countries that accept and abide by the U.N. Charter.
Maybe we should also require the CCP to apply the U.N. International Bill on Human Rights in China, starting by ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This would help ensure that “the basic values of freedom, democracy, equality, justice and peace” are available to the Chinese people, as called for by China’s U.N. ambassador last year.
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