19 February 2006

Michael Anti on Google and Yahoo in China

Michael Anti, the Chinese citizen whose MSN blog Microsoft deleted at the request of the Chinese government, defends Google and Microsoft, attacks Yahoo, and tells the U.S. Congress to butt out, all in a post translated on ESWN entitled The Freedom of Chinese Netizens Is Not Up to the Americans. (Anti's Chinese version here.)
On the eve of the US Congressional Hearings directed against the four big Internet companies (Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Cisco) about their coloration [collaboration?] with the Chinese government, I am writing to state that I believe that this has nothing to with us whatsoever. This is a purely internal American affair. When we Chinese who love freedom attempt to promote freedom of expression, we never thought that the right for freedom of expression ought to be protected by the US Congress. Every single blog post of mine was written in Chinese, and every sentence was written for my compatriots. I have no interest to cater to the interests of foreign readers....

Companies such as Microsoft and Google have provided Chinese netizens with much freedom of information over these years. They have begun to compromise recently. This is the shame of American companies as well as the shame of the Chinese people. The solution from the American side is that these companies must adhere to their bottom lines and be more responsible. Not only do you need the Chinese market, but China also needs these American companies. Your negotiation conditions are not getting fewer, but there are more. The Chinese netizens need freedom to grow more and more.

For the US Congressional representatives who think that everything is black-and-white, the absurd proposal is that "compromise=retreat." They even treat the freedom of the Chinese netizens as a maid that they can dress us as they wish. This proves once again: the freedom and rights of the Chinese people can only be won by the Chinese people themselves.

The only true way of solving the Internet blockage in China is this: every Chinese youth with conscience must practice and expand their freedom and oppose any blockage and suppression every day. This is the country that we love. Nobody wants her to be free more than we do. I am proud to be your compatriot.

At the end of my statement, I must state once again that I have mentioned only Microsoft and Google as the American companies, but it is definitely not Yahoo! A company such as Yahoo! which gives up information is unforgivable. It would be for the good of the Chinese netizens if such a company could be shut down or get out of China forever.
via Asiapundit. Nick Kristof also weighs in behind the New York Times elite opinion wall. (Michael Anti now works for the NYT Beijing bureau.)
Google strikes me as innocent of wrongdoing. True, Google has offered a censored version of its Chinese search engine, which will turn out the kind of results that the Communist Party would like (and thus will not be slowed down by filters and other impediments that now make it unattractive to Chinese users). But Google also kept its unexpurgated (and thus frustratingly slow) Chinese-language search engine available, so in effect its decision gave Chinese Web users more choices rather than fewer.
UPDATE: As if on cue, Sunday's Washington Post carries a wonderfully detailed report by Philip P. Pan about how Chinese netizens are winning some battles for their own freedom.
BEIJING -- The top editors of the China Youth Daily were meeting in a conference room last August when their cell phones started buzzing quietly with text messages. One after another, they discreetly read the notes. Then they traded nervous glances.

Colleagues were informing them that a senior editor in the room, Li Datong, had done something astonishing. Just before the meeting, Li had posted a blistering letter on the newspaper's computer system attacking the Communist Party's propaganda czars and a plan by the editor in chief to dock reporters' pay if their stories upset party officials.

No one told the editor in chief. For 90 minutes, he ran the meeting, oblivious to the political storm that was brewing. Then Li announced what he had done.

The chief editor stammered and rushed back to his office, witnesses recalled. But by then, Li's memo had leaked and was spreading across the Internet in countless e-mails and instant messages. Copies were posted on China's most popular Web forums, and within hours people across the country were sending Li messages of support.

The government's Internet censors scrambled, ordering one Web site after another to delete the letter. But two days later, in an embarrassing retreat, the party bowed to public outrage and scrapped the editor in chief's plan to muzzle his reporters.
via Instapundit

This story kicks off a series on The Great Firewall of China.

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