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All of their Principles have Dollar Signs attached to Them

Amnesty International says that Microsoft, along with Yahoo! and Google, has colluded with the Chinese government on Internet censorship. And maybe they all have. But there's a knee-slapper of a quote from Amnesty in this one: "The willingness of Yahoo!, Microsoft and Google to override their principles amounts to a betrayal of trust in the face of the lucrative opportunities that the Chinese market offers them."

Override their principles? Sure, Google touts its "Don't be evil" tagline, but isn't the principle in business still to make money? Granted, it would be great if big corporations would buck the hard-line government in the world's most populous country (and one of the world's fastest-growing markets) and stand up for freedom on the Web, but don't hold your breath. With Western markets looking ever more saturated, executives constantly looking for greener sales pastures and investors demanding a return on their money, the only principles most companies follow have dollar signs attached to them. That might be morally uncomfortable, but that's the nature of business -- and dealing with (often also known as "giving in to") the government at absolutely every turn is, to my understanding, the essential to business in China. It is bitterly ironic, though, that the pursuit of capitalism might have led some of our corporate leaders to make decidedly undemocratic decisions. Complicated world, huh?

Do you do business in China? Do you think Microsoft and friends are in the wrong on this issue?

Posted by Lee Pender on July 20, 2006 at 11:53 AM


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