Wednesday, September 14, 2005

People's Justice

Max Boot has a most interesting piece in today’s Los Angeles Times, chiding Yahoo ! for its cooperation with the government of China in tracking down a dangerous criminal, the journalist Shi Tao. Thanks to information from Yahoo’s ! Hong Kong affiliate, China was able to apprehend Mr. Shi and sentence him to ten years in prison for “illegally sending state secrets abroad.”
Mr. Shi, employed by the Dangdai Shang Bao (“Contemporary Business News”) in Hunan, illegally exported a copy of a directive from the Communist Party propaganda department telling it how to spin the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre – er, excuse, me, cleansing. Good to know the Ministry of State Security is on the job ! Yahoo ! More details, with a link to the translated verdict, can be found here.

Mr. Boot points out that Yahoo !, Google, MSN and the other Web search engine giants have already agreed with the Chinese to block web searches in China containing such dangerous terms as “human rights,” "democracy” or “Tibetan independence” and to prevent Chinese bloggers from posting commentary on these and other subjects inimical to public order and tranquility.

Mr. Boot opines that such kowtowing to the secret police by American businesses should be illegal, and that Congress should “forbid American firms from facilitating human rights abuses in China.” Mr. Boot asks, presumably rhetorically, us to “[i]magine what would have happened if during the 1980’s an American communications company had provided information that allowed the South African government to track down and imprison an anti-apartheid activist.” Mr. Boot wants to know how this case is different, and why what Yahoo and the others are doing isn’t the moral equivalent of such support of the apartheid South African regime ?

One wonders if Mr. Boot is simply stupid, or just obtuse ? How could anybody possibly compare the racist South African regime to that of People’s China ? South Africa was a white, racist-imperialist construct, placed in Africa by the West, to exploit the multi-racial, non-white toilers of the Third World. South Africa, and the West in general, had – and has still – to pay for centuries of exploitation and imperialism. Of course it would have been immoral to give the same information to the racist South Africans.

On the other hand, not providing such information to the Chinese regime would be utterly immoral. Workers’ China, a developing superpower, is, after all, the sure instrument of retribution and advancement for the toilers of Africa, Asia and the Middle East; and a beacon of justice to the West’s victims. What is liberty, freedom of the press, or any of the esoteric bourgeois concerns of declining Europe or America next to people’s justice and the wisdom of the Party ?

Political correctness demands that we consider the socio-political context of any and all public activities. Freedom and liberty are always defined and valued according to social utility. Actions taken by racist South Africans, Europeans, or the USA, or right-wing regimes are always suspect and often reprehensible, but the same actions by – for example -- China, or the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, or Chavez in Venezuela, by Iran, or other progressive or nationalist regimes, are often justified, and in fact commendable.

Probably, Mr. Shi, if he truly understood that his actions brought embarrassment to People’s China, and to the Communist Party, would agree that his imprisonment was not only merited, but justified. Hopefully, he engages in some needed thought-reform. Yahoo’s ! progressive attitude, far from being reprehensible, is commendable and both should and will be widely emulated.


Anonymous said...

Almost as though we are in the "Twilight Zone"

This is very scary for those of us who believe in freedom of speech.

Anonymous said...

You are insufficiently condemning of the racist west, and insufficiently admiring of the worker's paradise of worldwide social justice, PRC. You are ordered to the nearest re-education camp, until such a time as you are sufficiently willing to apply social justice reasoning sufficiently well.