The Running Blogs of Capitalism

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Slashdot reports that China has blocked all sites hosted at Typepad (aka Blogs.com), in addition to the already verboten Blogspot.

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  1. I wonder what the odds makers (Vegas, futures, etc) have set for when China will eventually have elections and more than one party (and free speech)? Very soon (due to upheaval), 10 years, 20 years, more? Anyone have some insight? We seem to really be ignoring that country, at least in the realm of talking heads, and whatnot.

  2. Is reason.com blocked in China?

  3. I’m still trying to figure out why China gets favorable trade status while we as a nation get pissed everytime we see shit like this; and Cuba gets the shaft.

    Might as well face the fact the Castro is there to stay regardless of US policies.

    Sorry to rant on a different topic.

  4. That has always bothered me. We happily trade with China a brutal communist dictatorship that has murdered countless innocent civilians, yet we condemn Cuba for being a, communist dictatorship? I guess it is simply the amount of money I suppose. But when I hear right wingers talk about maintaining ties and engagement rather than isolation regarding China I have to wonder how their heads don’t simply explode due to the cognitive dissonance.

    Steve

    :-

  5. Nominally, if I recall correctly, the Cuba embargo is linked to the expropriation of American companies there. Factually, I’m pretty sure it’s just that there isn’t a well organized anti-CCP expatriate voting bloc here.

  6. Kerry is bashing China. OK, he’s bashing their trade policies rather than their brutality, but still.

    Every election year the party that isn’t in the White House talks tough on China. (Remember Bill Clinton’s talk of getting tough on dictators from Baghdad to Beijing?) Once in office, they face the reality that China is a regional power and a growing economic power, and that as long as progress is being made (however slow it might be) good relations are better than bad relations.

    By the end of 8 years of Clinton he was accused of being way too easy on China. Some even accused him of giving them military secrets.

    Bush is now being accused of being way too easy on China’s trade policies. No doubt, if Kerry wins, in 2008 the GOP will lambast his policy toward China.

    My thought on the pace of change in China is that the country has been around even longer than Strom Thurmond. A culture doesn’t survive for 5,000 years by changing overnight. My friends from mainland China seem confident that they’ll be able to vote by the time they’re 50 (my friends are in their late 20’s).

    Not excusing another 20 years of tyranny, just observing that change seems to be coming in a slow manner.

  7. Maybe LiveJournal.com is part-owned by the Chinese?

    Actually, my snarky comment kinda has a point. China will have to put up with a small amount of dissent. A sort of red-light internet district of free speech. It’s simply too big and to economically entwined globally for people not to find a way around their blocks. So they may try to make it that those illicit, outside sources are owned, at least in part, by them, so they can get a piece of it. Of course, if they ever see some sort of agitators using the site to foment a revolution, they can do an IP trace and shut the bastards down. Just a thought….

  8. Something spooky to consider: before 9-11, everybody assumed China would be the big American problem-of-the-future. I even remember a throwaway joke headline in “The Onion,” along the lines of “First shots fired in Sino-American war of 2010.”

    Does anyone think those brewing troubles evaporated when Bin Laden dis his voodoo that he does so well? I rather think not.

  9. > I’m still trying to figure out why China gets favorable trade status while we as a nation get pissed everytime we see shit like this; and Cuba gets the shaft.

  10. I think we best not get into a land war with China.

    To be honest, China scares me more than the Islamo-fascists. IMO, they are better armed versions of the anarchists in the early-20th century that were assasinating leaders and setting off bombs. We should fight them and destroy them as swiftly as possible to save lives, but they register about a 6.5 out of 10 on my long term threat meter. China, OTOH, has a dangerous and crazy (not to mention nuclear) proxy state in North Korea. Their weapons tech is closing the gap as far as accuracy goes and they have a billion people and tons of factories. The big danger in exporting our labor is that our superior production capabilities was once our trademark advantage, we may lose that (though I am not a foe of outsourcing, merely something to consider). If we ever have to mix it up with China, and it doesn’t go nuclear, China will be a dangerous foe. Perhaps, if we can get them to rely on us economically, we can prevent a war through trade. However, they could go the way of Imperial Japan and decide we are standing in the way of their economic needs and raw materials. If the latter is a case, we have a lot more to worry about than OBL and his band of dirty thieves.

  11. thoreau,

    You are mighty understanding of the chinese human rights situation, but when it comes to real or perceived threats to civil liberties at home, you practice a zero-tolerance philosophy. Now, don’t do a typical “since Bush is not running tanks over students in Time sqare, we should be happy” sarcastic routine.

    How come you can’t apply the same latitude (as china) to places such as Iraq?

  12. Freedom comes in fits and starts. China represents a fantastic opportunity as those in power continue to recognize they are getting wildly richer through modernization than through Mao. Even the poor are getting richer. Enough so to start thinking for themselves and challenging again the government.

    I’m no expert, but it seems the Chinese history is one of more gradual change. The current crop of dictators will age and die, and their power will likely become diluted by up-and-comers with more business links to the world outside China. A captivating (or ruthless) leader could set the process back, and an external threat might give the government cause to restrengthen their command. But, if I’m playing the odds, I like the chances for patient transformation as we keep the dialogue going.

  13. One of the problems with China is that its government is using the rising economic prosperity as an incentive to keep people quiet about human rights abuses and such. As long as everyone’s getting richer (more or less), what’s to complain about? Another problem is that the government is appealing to people’s sense of nationalism as a way of making them “forget” about all the problems at home. When you block outside sources of information, it’s easy to blame all your problems on the Japanese or the Americans. Unfortunately, both strategies seem to be working, making a repeat of the events in Tiananmen Square all those years ago almost unthinkable today.

  14. I think that when they finally get the balls to tear down that giant banner of Mao’s face in Tienamin Square, we’ll finally know that things have permanently changed for the better in China. I was hoping that the students would take care of that back in 1989, but Mao was still sacrosanct somehow even then. I hate to be ‘psychological’ about a billion people, but I wonder if the trauma that bastard inflicted on his society isn’t working its damage still on China’s collective psyche, making them like a nation of abused children.

  15. Hey guys, Reason is available in China.

    From where I am at least, I can’t get to any major weblog service. Blog-city, blogs, even a lot of web BBSs aren’t available. Not sure what sparked this latest ‘crackdown’.

    To be honest, I find it hilarious that people have mentioned China’s ‘5000 year history’ here. Even the Chinese aren’t sure what it means, but they spout it every single day. I guess the Party’s propoganda is so good it’s working abroad, even.

  16. Wasn’t there some sort of internet-cafe crackdown in China recently? When I visited a couple years ago they were everywhere, but I heard a lot (most?) were closed. Not that it really matters. If one person can read Reason, and they tell five friends, and they tell their five friends….

  17. The crackdown a few years ago was because of fire hazards… nothing to do with blocking information. If you’ve ever been to an internet bar in China, it’s obvious nothing subversive happens (unless you count playing as terrorists or *gasp* Americans in CounterStrike). The things are PACKED with kids playing games.

    There was a fire in one of the Beijing bars, and a bunch of kids died. Everything got shut down for a while.

    This winter, though, there was another ‘crackdown’ on the internet bars. Now all the bars have signs that say they have to record who uses the computers. Not that they follow it, but they have a sign.

  18. This is precisely why I do not support corporate outsourcing to China and other third world countries with perhaps less, but certainly somewhat, coercive political systems, and hence, coerced economies.

    Doing business with or under the authority of such regimes, or taking advantage of cheap labor rates in such places, is not “free trade.” It is amoral pragmatism at best, unprincipled greed at worst.

  19. I think open trade relations would do more for the Chineese people than trying to forcefully change their government through trade embargoes.

    To go back to the example I gave, of a single individual citizen dealing with the crimes of a single corrupt communist official, if that family were more affluent they wouldn’t need foreign donations to get a DNA test and prove that their daughter was raped by a guy with friends in the communist party. Now, obviously there’s more to reform than individual cases like that, but much of the harm done by totalitarian states probably happens on the day-to-day level: People don’t have the resources to get around corrupt officials, and people are dependent on government officials. Bring in more trade and more ways to acquire wealth, and the situation changes somewhat.

  20. Thoreau,

    Thank you for the lengthy response.

    My question was “how come you can’t show the same latitude to places such as Iraq?”

    Taking your “incremental improvements” argument and applying to Iraq, shouldn’t you be cutting some slack to Bremer in Iraq?

  21. Thoreau,

    I don’t support trade sanctions per se, either. What I do support is business people and corporations making ethical decisions with long-term positive consequences, rather than INVITING undue regulation and legislative/legal remedies by taking actions that make sense in terms of profit, but yet do not pass the “smell” test to a significant number of potential customers.

    I also support truth in advertising and advocacy. To me, this means NOT dealing with or in corrupt, venal and repressive regimes while trumpeting about “free markets” and “laissez faire.”

  22. Thoreau,

    I don’t support trade sanctions per se, either. What I do support is business people and corporations making ethical decisions with long-term positive consequences, rather than INVITING undue regulation and legislative/legal remedies by taking actions that make sense in terms of profit, but yet do not pass the “smell” test to a significant number of potential customers.

    I also support truth in advertising and advocacy. To me, this means NOT dealing with or in corrupt, venal and repressive regimes while trumpeting about “free markets” and “laissez faire.”

  23. Thoreau,

    I don’t support trade sanctions per se, either. What I do support is business people and corporations making ethical decisions with long-term positive consequences, rather than INVITING undue regulation and legislative/legal remedies by taking actions that make sense in terms of profit, but yet do not pass the “smell” test to a significant number of potential customers.

    I also support truth in advertising and advocacy. To me, this means NOT dealing with or in corrupt, venal and repressive regimes while trumpeting about “free markets” and “laissez faire.”

  24. Zorel-

    First, I have much higher standards for American public officials because, um, well, I’m paying their salaries. And they affect me directly. And they answer to me on Election Day. If I were a Chinese citizen I’d be less upset about the Patriot Act but active in dissident movements in China. If I were a Russian I’d be less upset about China and more upset about KGB version 2.0, um, I mean, Vladimir Putin. And so forth.

    Second, I view infringements of civil liberties by American officials as steps backward. I view small, positive changes by Chinese officials as small steps forward. Steps backward always bother me more than insufficient progress.

    Third, my take on a country’s civil liberties situation is always tempered by pragmatic concerns over what I, as an American, can actually do about it. My view is that outsiders are usually far less effective than insiders. It’s fine to be righteously indignant over injustices abroad, but outside intervention is a notoriously tricky business that can sometimes cause dangerous side effects. I’m more likely to adopt an attitude of “well, I’ll let the home-grown reforms take their course” when I see problems abroad. On the other hand, when I see problems at home, well, I can be a part of the home-grown reforms.

    But, on the subject of China, 2 years ago I actually gave some money to a good cause in China. I read about a borderline-retarded Chinese peasant girl who was raped by a man with government connections. The baby was born, and the DNA test was done by government labs and, lo and behold!, the test showed that the guy with government connections was innocent. The parents of the girl were raising money to get the test done at a private lab (not an easy feat in China) and a whole bunch of people (myself included) wrote to the reporter to find out how we could send money. The family established a bank account, and I wired what I could. (I should note that it’s incredibly expensive to wire money to China, but at least money goes a lot further in China than in the US.)

    I discontinued my subscription to that newspaper, so I don’t know what the final outcome was. I’d like to hope that a rapist went to prison despite his ties to the Communist party, securing a victory for the rule of law in a corrupt place. Then again, for all I know the Communist party machine did what it does best, and covered it up.

    Anyway, not to pound my chest, but us peaceniks and civil libertarians are often accused of not caring what happens to foreigners brutalized by tyrannical governments. Here’s a tiny piece of evidence that yes, in fact, I do care what happens to foreigners victimized by their governments.

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