Monday, March 17, 2008

Tearing Down the Great Firewall

I have written previously here about Chinese censorship of web sites, including a large number of musical blogs. I advocated an avoidance of Chinese products, including information products like broadcasts of the Olympic Games. With the current violent repression of protest in Tibet, this situation has become more critical, and the Chinese government is using its censorship instruments to effectively deny its own citizens any objective information about their behavior in Tibet, a basic right due to all citizens in any state.

Aboves and beyond the relationships between states, the government of China has a vital interest in maintaining a relationship with individual consumers of their products. I believe that the best action for individuals is to indicate publicly that until the status of Tibet is resolved non--violently and to the advantage of the Tibetan people that one intends not to buy products made in China nor consume information distributed by China, for example broadcasts of the Olympic Games. Targeting Chinese-government sourced information is appropriate as the Chinese extensively censor information coming into the country, including web sources that Chinese citizens could use to gather objective information about the current situation in Tibet. Voluntarily not reading Chinese government propaganda is not a form of self-censorship, but a measured response to censorship from the position in which we, as individuals, are most important to China, as consumers, indicating that we consumers recognize the real market value of their products and refuse to buy them.

I personally will avoid buying products made in China and will not watch one minute of the Olympic games unless the status of Tibet is resolved non-violently and to the advantage of the Tibetan people. I urge readers to consider doing the same and to be public about their decision.


Anonymous said...

Since the computer you have used to write your post is 100% made in China, you will also have to stop blogging. I just wonder how are you going to be public about this...

Daniel Wolf said...

Dear Anonymous:

In the absence of any other channel for communicating with the Chinese Government, the issue is creating an immediate consumer response that will have a similar effect, if only in the form of a modest income reduction. Most of us can get along without purchasing a computer or component now or in the near future (there are plenty of other good reasons for holding onto electronics as long as possible as well).

That said, I have long been trying to purchase computer components that were made in torture-free countries. My computer was made in Scotland. My monitor was made in Hungary. My printer in South Korea. While there are probably many sub-components in these products that were made in China, it is definitely a start, and as I replace individual components in the future, I am perfectly willing to pay a premium for such sourcing.