Saturday, August 22, 2009

China: Will economic progress paving the way for political reforms?

If one is to go by the experience of the Asian tigers, then economic progress did create the demand for political reforms as well. China so has bucked that trend. But this item in the New York Times, may be an early indication that the forces of economic growth may be paving the road for political reforms to follow.

Internet censorship: "Since late May, Beijing’s Industry and Information Technology Ministry had more or less insisted that so-called anti-pornography software, called Green Dam-Youth Escort, would eventually be packaged with every newly purchased computer. On Thursday, the ministry backed down, calling the requirement a “misunderstanding” spawned by badly written rules. Officials offered no other explanation, but the retreat followed weeks of protests by outsiders — from foreign computer makers to foreign governments to foreign corporate branch offices — that said the software stifled free speech, compromised corporate security and threatened computers’ stability."

Intellectual Property: "the World Trade Organization told Beijing that it could no longer force providers of American books, music and films to distribute their goods through a local partner. Foreign companies saw that rule as an impediment to reaching a broad Chinese audience with their products. The Chinese market is flooded with pirated CDs and DVDs whose contents’ creators receive no money."

"The Chinese government dropped explosive espionage charges against executives of a foreign mining giant, the Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, after a global corporate outcry... ... ... While the espionage allegations were not spelled out, they were apparently related to delicate commercial negotiations over the price of China’s imports of iron ore for its steel mills. Rio Tinto executives have strongly denied the accusations, and both the United States and Australia said China’s actions could have both business and diplomatic repercussions."

Please read the original item in the New York Times here.

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