Yahoo Execs Scolded in Case of Jailed Dissident
November 8, 2007 9:19 AM
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Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang speaks in front of the parents of a jailed journalist
Yahoo executives again receive abuse over the company's role in Chinese politics
Two Yahoo officials yesterday went to Capitol Hill to defend Yahoo's actions regarding the jailing of Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist accused of leaking state secrets. Tao is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence stemming from pro-democracy efforts that landed him in hot water.
Republicans and Democrats
grilled Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang
and Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan during the three-hour session over Yahoo's actions in China.
"While technologically and financially you are giants, morally you are Pygmies," said Rep. Tom Lantos, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman.
With Tao's family sitting in attendance, Yang apologized to the family and the committee, while promising to help try and get Tao released from prison. The wife of imprisoned Chinese dissident Wang Xiaoning, was also present to speak during the hearing yesterday.
Tao was arrested and placed in jail after Yahoo China voluntarily turned over information to the government three years ago. Wang Xiaoning used a Yahoo account in 2002 to "advocate open elections" in China, which led to an eventual prison sentence.
"I am very happy that I saw and I heard the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee and other congressmen
criticize and condemn Yahoo
for having lied to the Congress," said Gao Qinsheng, Tao's mother.
As Yahoo, Google and other search engine companies try to tap into the booming Chinese Internet market, they've had to agree to censorship and other rules that would likely be impossible in the United States. For example, Yahoo was strongly criticized last spring after turning over Internet records to the Chinese government -- which led to imprisonment and torture.
Yahoo is now working on different methods to ensure user data does not end up in the hands of repressive regimes in other nations.
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11/10/2007 5:27:20 AM
There's a difference between understanding that a country can set its own laws and agreeing with them. In the case of the Affirmative Action march suppressions, those were clearly wrong, but that didn't give another country the right to threaten military action against us or to tell its citizens to ignore our laws when they're here.
The proper mechanism for changing a country's behavior is through trade and diplomacy. So if a country has a law or takes an internal act you disagree with, don't give them money, or give money to political groups in the country who share your views. For example, apartheid was ended largely due to internal pressures that were assisted by economic pressure from sanctions, not by the US telling our corporations not to obey South African laws.
What we have here is a case of wanting it both ways: the US needs American companies to operate in China to take advantage of its economy. Yet politicians don't want to see those companies conform to laws they think are immoral. The solution is not to ignore the Rule of Law, as these congressmen seem to be arguing for, but to either pull out completely or bite the bullet and cooperate. (In light of America's economic dependency on trade with China, the latter is probably the only feasible choice.) The views they've expressed in this case are hypocritical and bad policy, which was the point of my original post.
And you probably consider yourself "liberal." Sounds reactionary to me...
No, I have never considered myself "liberal." Not even close. And I am not being "reactionary," just anti-inconsistency, which something our government is rife with.
"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)
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