Steelie Neelie batters at China's Great Firewall
Censorship screen also illicit trade barrier, claims EC
China's Great Firewall is acting as a block to international business and should be tackled by the World Trade Organisation (WTO), according to European Competiton Commissioner Neelie Kroes.
In Shanghai today, she said that the array of technical measures designed by Beijing to stop citizens accessing banned websites was also harming European trade with China.
"It is one of those issues that needs to be tackled within the WTO," Reuters reports she said.
Traditionally trade barriers have been put up by imposing levies on imported goods or by blocking foreign ownership.
Under World Trade Organisation rules, a complaint about a trade barrier merits investigation and possibly dispute resolution procedures, whereby the WTO could impose a legal verdict on the Great Firewall. Because the European Union acts as a bloc at WTO level, Kroes was speaking for all member states today, including the UK.
"I am pushing wherever I can just to get European enterprises a level playing field in China and the other way around. It should be reciprocal," Kroes said.
The Great Firewall blocks access to hundreds of Western websites including news sites, merchants and social networks.
Kroes' statement suggests a new form of diplomatic leverage could be applied by the West against the Great Firewall. China has largely ignored criticism of censorship in human rights terms, notably in the run up to the Beijing Olympics, but attacking its free trade credentials may prove more embarrassing. ®
I find it depressing that violation of free trade is possibly more embarrassing than violation of human rights.
It just seems like, I dunno, a bit of a priority problem.
Ahem, Finally, applause
For f*ck sake, why don't we have a couple of politicians and civil servants like her in the UK?
China and russia regime on encryption on connecting back to wester company HQ, encryption on transferring data back and fourth between HQ and local company branches as well as many other digital administriva have been specifically created to ensure that:
1. Your company can be subjected to industrial espionage at the lowest cost possible so your data and trade secrets can be handed off to the local competitors.
2. You are forced to be local or partner with a local company to do business.
While Russia is not a member of the WTO so there is bugger all you can do when they tell you "Poshel na huj", china is a different matter. I hope the EU follows up with this as this will finally allow it to put some reasonably blanket levies on all Chinese goods which are long overdue.
Looking at the world from China, I often crash into the Wall while trying research something. The most aggravating block used to be Wikipedia, now not getting to blogspot and various picture services up my blood pressure almost daily. YouTube I don't miss that much.
But to be fair, keeping me from someone's opinion about a processor is a side effect. It's the opinions about Hu and Wen (and some other boobs) they want to protect me from. A lot like a child that hopes things will go away by closing its eyes. So all things being equal, Logan's razor applies again: stupidity tops malice. And hey, censorship feeds several 10 thousands of families.
Second thought: what equipment may they be using ... could it be ... Cisco?