January 25, 2006

Dear Jon,

I’m so glad you wrote this post. These are excellent questions and some which are currently being discussed in Congress! I’m going to share my views and knowledge as it takes my mind off of my damned move!

You ask “is it different than say, Ford producing a car in China… than what Google is doing?”

Well, that’s a very good and complex question. In one sense, there is a difference as Ford’s production of cars in China’s turf does essentially 2 things: it produces an American product cheaply enough to compete in a huge new market being opened up to foreign (American) companies; it provides the Chinese with the rudimentary knowledge of how a capitalist manufacturing plant operates and prepares for the future.

China, is a country that until recently was closed off from any foreign knowledge, except that which would enable them to maintain some competitiveness in the marketplace and enable them to perpetuate their political system. In the late 1990’s Microsoft, and technology companies, began to make inroads through the manufacture and sales of their products in China. This impacted how Chinese knowledge was stored, organized and disseminated. It was these companies that helped fuel the imagination, hopes and dreams of students in The Tiananmen Square uprisings. They knew there was more and they wanted the knowledge that was available to the rest of the world.

Today, the Chinese old guard (party members) have seen the financial effects of Communist style secrecy and lack of information on their economy and its population during the spread of SAR’s in 2003. Their economy lost revenue in the millions. They now realize that transparency, openness, and information are keys to their economic survival and competitiveness in a market economy.

The Chinese are an extremely cautious people when it comes to change. Evidence of this has been seen in how they’ve adopted manufacturing concepts and ideas as opposed to technology. As they begin to take steps to gain membership in the World Trade Organization, their society will need to become even more open and transparent.

The Ford’s and Microsoft’s have done much in the last 5 years to help fuel the economic boon the Chinese are now experiencing. Chinese personal income and capital has nearly doubled over what they experienced exclusively under their Communist economy. So to answer your question, yes, even with limited censorship, the spread of information to a previously closed society does more for our socio-economic and political system than theirs. Of course you won't hear any of this in the MSM.

Google’s entrance into their world will do 2 very important things: it will provide the Chinese population (in the billions) with huge amounts of information they never had access to before (what they're blocking are key phrases like Tianamen Square and Free Speech); and, through the exposure of this new knowledge, they will gain understanding to western cultural values, capitalism and personal freedoms. All concepts they will eventually be able to embrace and adopt. In the end, it will not only be better for China, but it will also be better for Ford, and ultimately all of us.

As for your meta-question: "Is Communism in China ... worse than any other... ?" We need only look at Vietnam and see the economic and political changes in their country over the last 12 years to see that trade with open markets countries leads closed societies to seek out more prosperity and eventually greater freedoms.

Posted by Michele at January 25, 2006 12:52 PM | TrackBack

I think my anger is mostly aimed at Google's selectiveness.

I recall a lesson from college that when the "Expectations Curve" is way higher than the "Realizations Curve" a society will have a revolution. I remember that the TV in South America created a real problem for the leaders there because people saw technology on TV (nice cars, houses, food, clothes, etc.) that they didn't even know existed.

I can understand why the Chinese government wants to control their people - that's what oppressive regimes do. What I cannot accept is the two-faced nature of Google.

Posted by: _Jon at January 25, 2006 06:06 PM

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