I completely agree with Rebecca McKinnion on everything in her most recent post. Read the whole thing, but here are the bullet points:
1. I am not calling for a boycott of China or of Cisco or any other companies.
2. I am in favor of free trade, I support capitalism, and I think trading with China is a good thing.
3. I don’t think legislation or political lobbying is completely useless.
I developed the ‘censored by Cisco advertisment’ on the left-hand sidebar, more of which are available here (I do encourage copying), because I believe it is the best way to bring attention to the censorship situation in China. The Great Firewall is a creation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and they are the ones who should be blamed. But every blogger in the world could post a banner condemning censorship in China and the CPC would not give a toss.
Every blogger in the world could have a banner photo of Tank Man and the CPC would not give a toss.
I’m not accusing Cisco, Juniper or Alcatel in being ‘knowingly
complicit’ in building the Great Firewall, but as they are instrumental
in constructing the state’s communication system. I believe that
calling upon them to explain themselves, and what they know, is a more
useful way to gain attention than calling on the CPC to defend itself.
Plus, as Rebecca argues:
I want to know if these
companies are providing service or customization which would make it
clear that they know exactly how those technologies are going to be
used - despite public claims of innocence and clean hands.
agree, China is better off - and the future of democracy in China is
better off - thanks to the existence of Cisco routers in China. But to
me, there is an important difference between selling routers to China
and providing software services to China in general - with the
understanding that one can’t control how the technology ultimately gets
used - and the sale of technology directly to Chinese government
entities whose intentions are rather obvious. Way back in 2001,
according to this report here by the International Centre for Human
Rights and Democratic Development, Cisco was courting the Chinese
Public Security bureau for business. Author Ethan Gutmann has reported
similar things. As have Amnesty International and the Open Net
Initiative. Cisco denies any direct involvement or knowledge in how its
products were going to be used. Nobody can 100% confirm anything. But
are we just going to take Cisco’s word for it and leave it at that?