Saturday, March 13, 2010

China, Google, and the US

China Daily has an interesting combination of articles. The first is the one on Google and its actions in China. There it states:

Google "will bear the consequences" if it stops censoring search results on its Chinese website, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Friday. The statement by Minister Li Yizhong at a press conference was the strongest one yet by the Chinese government over the issue since Jan 12, when the US-based Internet search giant threatened to pull out of China because of cyber attacks that it claimed originated from the country. The Chinese government welcomes Google to expand its market share in the country if it abides by Chinese laws and regulations, Li said...

But when reporters asked him what China would do if Google stops censoring search results on its local website, Li, 65, said: "If you don't respect Chinese laws, you are unfriendly and irresponsible, and you will bear the consequences." Google has been in negotiations with Chinese authorities over providing unfiltered online services since its announcement two months ago of the alleged cyber attacks and its unwillingness to continue censoring its search results on domestic website

In the same day they also have published a report on the lack of freedom in the US. They state:

The State Department of the United States released its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009 on March 11, 2010, posing as "the world judge of human rights" again. As in previous years, the reports are full of accusations of the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China, but turn a blind eye to, or dodge and even cover up rampant human rights abuses on its own territory. The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2009 is prepared to help people around the world understand the real situation of human rights in the United States.

They go on:

In the United States, about 30,000 people die from gun-related incidents each year (The China Press, April 6, 2009). According to a FBI report, there had been 14,180 murder victims in 2008 (USA Today, September 15, 2009). Firearms were used in 66.9 percent of murders, 43.5 percent of robberies and 21.4 percent of aggravated assaults ( USA Today reported that a man named Michael McLendon killed 10 people in two rural towns of Alabama before turning a gun on himself on March 11, 2009. On March 29, a man named Robert Stewart shot and killed eight people and injured three others in a nursing home in North Carolina (USA Today, March 11, 2009). On April 3, an immigrant called Jiverly Wong shot 13 people dead and wounded four others in an immigration services center in downtown Binghamton, New York

They continue:

After the September 11 attack, the US government, in the name of anti-terrorism, authorized its intelligence authorities to hack into its citizens' mail communications, and to monitor and erase any information that might threaten the US national interests on the Internet through technical means. The country's Patriot Act allowed law enforcement agencies to search telephone, email communications, medical, financial and other records, and broadened the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities in detaining and deporting foreign persons suspected of terrorism-related acts. The Act expanded the definition of terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which law enforcement powers could be applied. On July 9, 2008, the US Senate passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act of 2008, granting legal immunity to telecommunication companies that take part in wiretapping programs and authorizing the government to wiretap international communications between the United States and people overseas for anti-terrorism purposes without court approval (The New York Times, July 10, 2008). Statistic showed that from 2002 to 2006, the FBI collected thousands of phones records of US citizens through mails, notes and phone calls.

Needless to say there is truth in all of their allegations. They seem to be balancing to their own people as well as the world the fact that the US has as much of an environment of control as does China. Frankly the trends in the US are frighteningly in that direction.

Both articles are worth the read on a side by side basis. It provides insight into how others see the US and in fact how the US actually functions. Post 9/11 both Republican and Democrat leaders have tightened the reigns of freedom in the country, often with fearful long term consequences.

The report finishes with statements of the following type:

According to a report by the US Congress, the US foreign arms sales in 2008 soared to 37.8 billion US dollars from 25.4 billion a year earlier, up by nearly 50 percent, accounting for 68.4 percent of the global arms sales that were at its four-year low (Reuters, September 6, 2009). At the beginning of 2010, the US government announced a 6.4-billion-US dollar arms sales package to Taiwan despite strong protest from the Chinese government and people, which seriously damaged China's national security interests and aroused strong indignation among the Chinese people.

The final statement is:

We hereby advise the US government to draw lessons from the history, put itself in a correct position, strive to improve its own human rights conditions and rectify its acts in the human rights field.

Is this a friendly warning, a shot across the bow, a reflection of how others see the US or a valid set of observations. The kettle and the oven may have things in common, one may fear.