Friday, January 15, 2010

Tom Friedman 2: Information

Now for the other issue to which I alluded in this post: the Chinese government's restrictions on the flow of information.

The biggest current story on that topic is the threat by the company that hosts this blog, to withdraw from China. Google says it will shut down its Chinese operations, unless it is able to offer uncensored search results in that country.

The New York Times praised Google, and criticized China, in this January 14 editorial. However, on the previous day, that newspaper's foreign affairs columnist, Tom Friedman, had nary a word to say about censorship, while discussing the factors that will affect China's economic future.

Perhaps some might quibble about whether information will be important to the development of China's business, science and politics (although I don't see how). But Friedman doesn't even deem it worth mentioning.

The closest Friedman comes to addressing the issue of the flow of information is when he praises China for having 200,000,000 broadband Internet users, as compared to the U.S.'s mere 80,000,000. But he doesn't mention the fact that those Chinese surfers of the 'net can only receive information that gets through The Great Firewall of China.

Perhaps Friedman thinks that the Chinese should just listen to their political leaders and follow what they say. If the millions of starvation victims for whom Mao's Great Leap Forward was a Great Leap Into The Grave were around to express an opinion, they would probably warn Tom off that mode of thinking.

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