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Republican and Democrat Americans angry at Uncle Sam's corporations

land_dispute_from_ESWN.jpg

A few weeks ago, there was a lot of noise on China-related English language blogs about Microsoft censoring the words for "democracy" and "freedom" from its Chinese blogging platform. This led to discussion about the ways in which American corporations are aiding the Chinese government to control the flow of information over the Internet. Much of this discussion was widely reported in the Western media, but probably unnoticed by the average Joe in Paris and New York, and most certainly unnoticed by the average Zhou in Chengdu and Beijing.

Your humble correspondent was very cynical about the whole affair and especially the Western reaction to it, mainly because I did not see any Chinese people getting really upset about it.

I am South African. I come from a country where there has only been real freedom of expression and publication for a decade, which makes me especially value those freedoms. But I am also aware that as in China, South Africa's worst human rights problems are connected with the rights to land ownership, not the right to free speech.

This is because in South Africa, as in China, the inequities of the last 200 years have resulted in many murky and intractable land disputes. And when people do not know what property rights they have — and this refers to highly tangible property like land and cars and chunks of gold — society has a tough time organizing itself in a fair way. Land rights problems cannot be solved with easy solutions devised in Washington or Oslo, and they are at the heart of some of the world's worst conflicts.

So while I have nothing but respect for the free expression idealism of the American bloggers linked below, I am more interested in how China and Africa can solve unglamorous land disputes than whether or not Chinese bloggers can write the words 'fuck' and 'democracy' on some Johnny-come-lately Microsoft blogging platform.

Links and Sources
  • The Horse's Mouth blog: A letter to the editor...
    Written as a letter to his hometown newspaper, the Horse's Mouth blogger protests American corporate complicity in Internet filtering in China. Whatever you think of his politics, you gotta love the guy — the writer of the Horse's Mouth is the only possible way your correspondent could have made it on to American conservative web forum Free Republic (link). Danwei — which is run by third-world free-trade types and totally non partisan — hopes in the future to welcome more Republican visitors to the wild west of Chinese media. A big howdy from Chicom Central!
  • Recovering CNN Beijing bureau chief Rebecca MacKinnon: More on Cisco in China (this link for those inside the Nanny's clammy embrace)
    More on Cisco in China (this link for those outside the influence of the meddlesome Nanny)
  • Peking Duck: China blogger Isaac Mao calls Microsoft "evil"
  • Image taken from ESWN: A Forced Eviction in Chongqing
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