Last weekend, we told you that Yahoo! is now apologizing for not telling the full truth to Congress at the February 2006 hearing where Yahoo! was taken to task for its role in the conviction of Chinese journalist Shi Tao. Now both Republicans and Democrats have launched scathing attacks on Yahoo. San Mateo Democrat Tom Lantos has called Yahoo “moral pygmies”, and New Jersey Republican Chris Smith compared Yahoo’s cooperation with the Chinese government to companies that cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II.
Tech power blog TechCrunch is not the place one normally goes for political/social commentary, but we think Duncan Riley put a few things in perspective with the following paragraphs, and they’re worth reproducing here:
Lets flip this around: does the committee, or for that matter the American Government believe that companies trading in the United States should ignore local laws if and when they find them morally repugnant? I doubt they would, but this is the crux of what they are suggesting, unless of course they may be so arrogant to believe that US law should be the supreme law of the entire planet. Consider if Baidu set up an American subsidiary, and the FBI subpoenaed them trying to find information on a terrorist. Would they not expect Baidu to comply with the request? If Baidu failed to comply would the Committee and US Government support them in their refusal to comply?
I’m not suggesting that the Chinese political dissident in this case was a terrorist, but understand that some one advocating the overthrow of the Chinese Government is not dissimilar to some one doing the same thing in the United States, even if the two nations would disagree on categorization based on the means advocated…
China is not like Nazi Germany, even if I don’t agree with some of what the Government does there, and to suggest that it is like Nazi Germany is an insult to the victims of WW2 as well as the Chinese people. Presuming China is Nazi Germany, why is it that the United States is importing approx $280 billion of Chinese goods every year? If this committee is seriously anti-China, and this reflects the will of the Government, why does trade continue? why are Chinese companies allowed to trade in the United States and conversely US companies in China? This can be stopped: look at the current sanctions on Iran for an example.
Ultimately, Yahoo has been made a scapegoat for the flaws of US foreign policy. If the US Government is as serious as the rhetoric of this committee would suggest, they’d stop trade with China tomorrow, but that’s not going to happen, is it. The executive team at Yahoo may be on shaky moral ground, but legally they have done nothing more than be a good corporate citizen, no matter which country they operate in.
What do Shanghaiists think?
Photo of Yahoo’s Jerry Yang from jurvetson