Simultaneously, it is:
- increasing the size of its military to alarming levels;
- using its vast population, willing to work for low wages, to cripple the United States and other countries with vast trade deficits;
- cannibalizing the technological and entertainment intellectual property rights of the West; and leveraging its size to get vast amounts of property and stakes in the businesses of this and other countries.
Meanwhile, the United States is blithely underwriting the Chinese government's steady movement in this direction, thereby giving aid and comfort to the greatest threat to democracy and to the United States in the world today. The threat posed by terrorists like Osama bin Laden pales by comparison with the damage an increasingly powerful and unrepentantly repressive regime like that in Beijing is likely to bring to freedom and to America.
Many American corporations, dazzled by the huge Chinese market, are increasingly dancing to the tune played by the government there, going along with the government's repression of its people.
The latest example of American corporate acquiescence to totalitarianism is the decision by Microsoft to shut down the blog site of a Chinese dissident. Microsoft defends their action, saying they have an obligation to obey the laws of the countries in which they operate. Maybe so. But they have no obligation to operate in those countries!
Corporations, especially ones the size of Microsoft, overlook the leverage they have over a Chinese regime anxious to placate the masses so desperate that they're willing to give up freedom in exchange for a higher financial standard of living.
It seems to me that if these corporations refuse to do their duty to America and to the cause of freedom by taking a pass on being agents of Chinese repression, then the US government ought to force them to act responsibly.
British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, the "peace in our times" guy who acquiesced to Hitler's demands for territory, is often seen as a failed and naive peacenik. In fact, Chamberlain was acting on the basis of no utopian vision, but to what he thought was sound business principles. He wanted to do what he could to avoid a confrontation so that the businesses of Europe could keep humming along, people's freedom be hanged. Clearly, Microsoft has adopted the same shortsighted Chamberlain-attitude about the regime in China. I hope that our government hasn't done the same thing!
[Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for mentioning this story.