MSN censorship in China

Democracy. Demonstration. Freedom.

If I were in China, I wouldn’t be allowed to make this post because of the above three words.

Microsoft have bowed down to the Chinese government’s demands for censorship of MSN Spaces.

Some would say that Microsoft is behaving like a typical big corporation in service solely to the mighty dollar, agreeing to outrageous Chinese censorship just to gain access to the market, despite the fact that its dollars will have been earned off the back of repression.

Look around your house. How many things would you think are made in China? Your keyboard? Your mouse? Parts of your car? Kitchen appliances? You bought those. Every time money is sent China’s way, it pays for a government that is happily destroying the usefulness of the Internet for Chinese people. So you pay for censorship.

And so do I.

It’s a difficult one. It’s hard to avoid all Chinese products, and life would be difficult if we try. But how can we protest whenever we hear about the trampling down of freedom in China when we’re typing our objections out on Chinese keyboards, the money for which has helped the government trample such freedom?

By “freedom” I’m not referring to Freedom, trademark of the United States of America, synonymous with “American cultural influence, worldwide military spread and economic dominance”. President Bush doesn’t care about real freedom (small ‘f’) — if he did, he would at least offer to defend Taiwan against China when China threatens Taiwan with missile strikes upon anything resembling a declaration of independence. Real freedom is not the US government imposing its will throughout the globe; it is exactly what the dictionary calls it: “the power to act or speak or think without externally imposed restraints”.

I suppose though, if vegans can manage to avoid everything that’s touched animals, why can’t we manage to avoid all things made in China? It’s all a matter of will I suppose. “Fairtrade” teas and coffees offer those in poor positions a better deal, and they’re gaining in popularity. I wonder how long it will be before we see a similar movement to do something about the world’s greatest outpost of oppression?

By the way, my keyboard was made in Thailand.