Friday, January 22, 2010

Internet Alone Won't Make Them Free 互联网本身并不能使任何人自由

陈凯一语: Kai Chen's Words:

No one can make anyone else free unless one wants to be free himself/herself. Modern technology can be applied to suppress freedom as well as to advance it. To be free, one must take action to free themselves from the evil communist regime as well as from evil within oneself. --- Kai Chen

没有人能使任何其他人自由。 自由是每个个体本身付出代价去争取到的。 现代科技可以用来争取自由,也可以用来压抑自由。 要自由,每一个个体都要主动行为付出代价从共产专制下独立出来,同时也要从自身的软弱、怯懦与道德混乱中挣脱出来。 --- 陈凯


Internet Alone Won't Make Them Free 互联网本身并不能使任何人自由

MoreEllen Bork

Special to Sphere (Jan. 22, 2010)

It's ironic that an Internet company is getting kudos for its announcement that it may leave China. After all, for many years, the presumption has been that the Internet would be an unstoppable force for good in China and American companies would be on the cutting edge of this transformation.

No one did more to apply this principle to U.S.-China policy than President Bill Clinton. Thursday, a more sober expression of the Internet's possibilities and support for a U.S. government role in the use of the Internet to advance freedom came from his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Until 10 years ago, there was an annual debate in Congress about China and human rights on the occasion of the decision by the president whether to renew China's trade status – i.e., "most favored nation," or MFN. Human rights activists as well as representatives of American business canvassed the Hill. The prospect of a thumbs-down vote put pressure on the president and the State Department to get concessions from China. Under such pressure, which mounted after the Tiananmen massacre of democracy protesters in 1989, President Clinton, who came to office decrying the "butchers of Beijing," even agreed to make China's trade status conditional on human rights progress.

But when it came time to fulfill that promise in 1994, President Clinton balked, "delinking" human rights from trade. In doing so, he double-crossed not only Democratic leaders in Congress, including now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and then-Sen. George Mitchell, but also Chinese dissidents and activists, and even reformers inside the Chinese Communist Party who could have used a tough U.S. stance to bolster their positions.

So, have trade, investment and the Internet brought freedom to China? Of course not.

In fact, thanks to a growing economy and better technology (some of it imported from America), China's tactics of control have actually become more refined and effective. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains a massive Internet-policing apparatus and works hard to keep the Web from being an effective tool of organization by human rights activists or an outlet of free speech by journalists and bloggers -- people like Shi Tao, a journalist who went to jail after Yahoo identified him for Chinese authorities tracing an innocuous e-mail.

There is everything right about Chinese people escaping poverty and gaining a higher standard of living. Nor is it American business' business to bring democracy to China. But as Google's famous motto goes, business shouldn't be evil either. Yet that is basically what American businesses are doing when they sell the CCP the means to maintain increasingly sophisticated control over the people.

The battle isn't between technology and dictatorship, but between dictators and the people. Both try to make the best use of their resources, which favor, of course, the CCP.

In her speech Thursday, Secretary Clinton acknowledged that technology can be used by both sides in the struggle for democracy. The U.S., she said, will "take sides." Doing that would put the Obama administration at odds with China's communist dictatorship, and, if Secretary Clinton is serious, will also alienate some American and foreign companies that would like to sell China technologies that can be used to police the Internet and society.

This would be an important change in a longstanding, passive approach to the role of the Internet and, more broadly, "engagement" in China that hasn't worked.
Ellen Bork is director of democracy and human rights at the Foreign Policy Initiative.

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