On Chinese “free” speech

At first, I wasn’t going to weigh in being that the big guns have already taken their place – with Rebecca MacKinnon against the government censorship and Robert Scoble for. Our own Ed Cone even covers this passionate dispute.
Both sides have their merits. But Rebecca puts it in the best terms when she says: “…I can tell you one more thing about the Chinese. They hear what you say, then they watch how you do business. From there, it’s pretty easy to figure out what your real values are.”


I’ve learned one thing while living in the South. We Chinese are very much like Southerners. Southern hospitality prevails on face value, but when you get down to how they think, they will never tell it to your face.
Chinese operate in the same fashion. They judge you by your words and then how you follow-up with your actions.
There are two different operators in China. The government, and then the people. If you operate a business that deals with the government, then Scoble is exactly correct. It’s not your place to delve into matters that do not concern you. However, if you look at free speech from the people’s point of view, it’s a whole different matter. Rebecca covers that angle especially well.
In the end, it’s who you talk to and where it comes from. In the end though, the values remain the same. It’s not our place to force the Chinese government since it’s not our place, but as self-proclaimed protectors of free speech and democracy, it’s difficult to ignore the cries of the people.