Report Microsoft and Google Censor for China in Current Events Posted September 1, 2007 I agree with Moebius' comment, with the proviso that I have not been to China, nor have I spent a large amount of time studying China. Having said that, from the knowledge I do have China seems to have essentially moved towards a more capitalist future. Its economy is growing at an incredible rate, nearly 10% a year, and exceeding that in many regions. This assumes official statistics are valid, although it is confirmed by other statistics such as electricity growth that is some 13%-15% per year. This kind of growth is not happening because of central planning. It is happening despite the central planning that is still extensive in this economy. It is the result of private businesspeople building factories, businesses, buildings and homes. China has become the manufacturer to the world. Government still has a heavy hand, which it may use to thwart some businesses and unfairly help others, using many evil tactics, such as eminent domain, arbitrary regulations and taxation, confiscations, etc. However, through it all, an increasingly capitalist economy based on private property has emerged, de facto and increasingly de jure. China still has the potentially fatal problem of a Communist Party that wants to retain control. The Communist Party rulers are increasingly trying to maintain that control through such silly and disturbing tactics as having Internet warning cartoons appear on people's computers. I predict they will grow more desperate to control the Chinese as the people become wealthier and exercise more de facto freedoms. Will we see another massive Tiananmen Square uprising in China? I don't know. Over the long haul, our trade with China will increase the wealth of the Chinese people and our wealth. Trade will abet their path toward greater capitalism and hasten the day when the Communist Party must step down, although that outcome is not inevitable. Although it is in our interest to trade with China, that is only true if American property rights are protected. We should demand that the Chinese respect our property and contractual rights when we trade with them. For example, the U.S. government should encourage adjudication of claims against Chinese theft of our intellectual property in American courts, if the Chinese won't enforce such rights. Naturally, if shoddy or unsafe Chinese goods hurt American customers, those customers and the American importers can sue for damages in American courts. Much trade with China will not involve the moral dilemma of sanctioning government evil such as censorship. Simply buying manufactured goods in China, which is the country's principal export, does not involve sanctioning that government. However, I do not have an answer for what Microsoft and Google should do. I do not think they are breaking any American laws by participating in the Chinese censorship of their internet services. However, helping the Chinese police to round up political prisoners or enabling censorship is immoral. If I were running these companies, I would refuse to cooperate, under the principle that it is not in my or my shareholders' long-run self-interest to abet such violations of core individual rights. But to really make that decision, I would need to know the full context. The full context of Microsoft and Google's Chinese business is unknown to me. How egregious is the government censorship they abet? How successful is it? Do their Chinese customers have ways around the censorship? If the censorship is easily beaten, that changes things. As for Microsoft and Google helping Chinese police chase down specific users, how often does that happen, and for what "crimes" are these people apprehended? My apologies if these questions have been answered in an earlier post. I have not read all of the posts on this thread.