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Helping Other Big Brothers Go High Tech 97

Dino writes "BusinessWeek has an interesting article about the export of high-tech equipment to China's security forces, and the dilemma that it creates. On the one hand, there is the desire to increase exports to a country with which there is a trade imbalance. On the other hand, we face a situation in which the technology can be used to track dissidents and unauthorized religions. Restrictions have been enacted since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre to prevent exports intended to the Chinese security forces. However, the restrictions have been applied narrowly, and effectively prevent only low-tech exports such as handcuffs, helmets, fingerprint powder, and tear gas, while DB software, two-way radios, DNA analysis gear, and video probes, are allowed."
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Helping Other Big Brothers Go High Tech

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  • by CmdrTaco (troll) ( 578383 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:47PM (#16109494) Homepage
    They need to make sure blood on the bullet matches up so they don't bill the wrong family.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by markana ( 152984 )
      I though it was so they could match the transplant patients to the correct pris^h^h^h^h donor....

      For what those people are payng, they want the best match possible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#16109515)
    The actual headline in Business Week's article in the linked article is "Helping Big Brother Go High Tech ", yet the slashdot headline is slyly reworded to "Helping Other Big Brothers Go High Tech".

    I wonder this was just an innocent mistake or if the submitter intentionally reworded this to imply there are other big brothers we are helping. If so, let's see the evidence, otherwise this slight modification of text comes out of the pages of Animal Farm.

    Hmm..

    • by ajenteks ( 943860 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:10PM (#16109625)
      Maybe the implication is that America itself is a big brother? The wire-tapping crap alone that's been going on lately sure makes it seem like that could be the case.
      • Maybe? in what world you people live? As for the GP's other Big Brothers, excuse me, wasn't Saddam Hussein a former ally of yours?
      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        Maybe the implication is that America itself is a big brother?

        But instead of Emmanuel Goldstein you have Osama Bin Laden. Now stand for your two minutes of hate.

    • It was the Editors (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I am the submitter, and I copied the article's title from BusinessWeek as is, and put it in the subject field.
      I just noticed that since you mentioned it.
    • Ockham's Razor, people. Simplest explanation blah blah blah...the person who posted it typed the subject line by hand and put "brothers" instead of "brother", simple typo. Implications of greater conspiracy? I feel like I'm on one of those Area 51 websites. Take off your foil hats guys.
    • by Guuge ( 719028 )
      For what it's worth, I think it's quite obvious that the change is supposed to clarify that the "Big Brother" we're talking about is not our "Big Brother" but another "Big Brother".
  • by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:52PM (#16109528)
    There is little evidence of companies caring much in the past (IBM & Nazis etc), and I doubt they will care in the future either. Very few will put ethics before a sale.

    However, they do care about how they are are perceived to be acting because negative press can get in the way of other sales, so they might not sell to Chine etc if they think that might hurt selling to a more lucrative market. Don't for a minute confuse that with genuine ethical feelings though.

    • However, they do care about how they are are perceived to be acting because negative press can get in the way of other sales, so they might not sell to Chine etc if they think that might hurt selling to a more lucrative market.

      Yes, but even then they only care after there is an uproar about what they are selling and to whom. They don't seem so keen on detecting where they will get negative press, or else it's worth the risk hoping that no one will notice.

      --
      you give me beer, i give you condo. [vancouvercondo.info]
    • Worrying about exporting this stuff to China is dumb. We already export:

      - Cash. We invest more in China than the rest of the world combined.
      - Jobs. Our loss is their gain.
      - Internet filtering, courtesy Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft.
      - Chip manufacturing technology (indirectly through Taiwan)

      SMIC, China's largest semiconductor manufacturer (built on US technology) is listed on the Nasdaq. For some stupid reason, politicians in Washington don't think the Chinese are capable of building advanced computers, r
      • What the Communist China lacks is creativity. I am not talking about the Chinese people here, I am talking about the dictatorship supressing Free Though.

        Hence Chinese grad students and scientists working abroad achieve wonders of creativity and invention, while those inside China, not so much...

    • Consumers? Hello? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by NineNine ( 235196 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @09:08PM (#16110447)
      Oh please. You can talk about companies all day, but all of the corporations in the world don't begin to measure up to what consumer whores regular citizens are. You know those hundreds of millions of people shopping at Wal-Mart? You think any of them know or care where their money is going. I'd wager on "no". Hell, Wal-Mart didn't have even a bump in their upward trajectory when they quietly dropped their "Made in the USA" schtick. People just keep buying, and buying, and buying...

      And I'm not talking about Wal-Mart, I'm talking about every little thing that regular people buy every day. Hell, I've seen people beat the shit out of each other like animals so that they could save $100 on a laptop computer.

      Remember, the only reason these companies are here is because people keep buying stuff from them.
      • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
        Buy chinese goods, sell goods to chinese, make both economies interdependant. Make wealthy people in China, make the middle class grow. Leaving them poor and uneducated is surely not the way out of the dictatorship.
      • Increased trade with China is a good thing for China, the chinese and the rest of the world. It creates a wealthy middle class who are no longer reliant on the government and who will want more political influence on how they are governed. This will have a far larger impact on the political reform than isolationism, which simply cements dictatorships in place.

         
  • by TalkingWire ( 1002401 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @05:55PM (#16109542)
    Another carrot proffered naively by the US in hopes that China will "come around" and re-evaluate its currency?
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No... it's further proof that the single party dictatorship in the United States is teaming up with the single party dictatorship in China to keep each other in power.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by thegnu ( 557446 )
      Another carrot proffered naively by the US in hopes that China will "come around" and re-evaluate its currency?

      I think the US Government has been fostering this conception we have that they're stupid so we don't see blatant attempts to aid and abet their Big Bretheren as such, but as vast miscalculations. All Donald Rumsfeld will need to do in the future to dispel any thoughts that there may have been malice aforethought will be to spit out some more confusing nonsensical tirade about hot air balloons and
    • I don't think it's as much offering China any carrots, as just bending over backwards to please the local big corporations. Wouldn't want to let ethical considerations get in the way of big campaign contributions, now would we? The US policy and politics of the new millenium have dropped any coherent planning or pretense of pursuing the interest of the country as a whole, and just focused on giving corporations anything they wish, even if it means shafting society as a whole to do that.
  • Selling the Chines databases and two-way radios is bad? I don't get it. Also, where does in the article does it even mention two-way radios, video probes or DNA analysis?
  • Free market (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gethoht ( 757871 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:07PM (#16109611)
    The free market attitude is what dominates us policy(except for huge subsidies to oil companies, tax breaks to mega corps, etc...)

    Profit will always trump most other ideals in business today.
    • Selling to a government is hardly a "free market", since the money spent by the buyer is stolen from its citizens by force of law. The goods and services are obtained by coercion. This is true in the U.S. as well as China. The sellers enable it by taking the business.
  • any human rights irrelevant.
  • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:15PM (#16109655) Homepage Journal
    I hope I'm not randomly selected at the airport to be searched with a video probe!
  • .. someone else will... or china can make them for themselves much cheaper (I am surprised why they don't do that in the first place)
  • by DrMrLordX ( 559371 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:21PM (#16109695)
    . . . nearly anything could potentially be used in the repression of free thought and free religion in China. Dealing with the Chinese at all, under any circumstance, could easily be construed as indirect support for China's totalitarian political infrastructure. Why split hairs over database software and DNA testing equipment? If you're going to be dealing with them at all, you've got to accept the risk that something you sold them might eventually be used to track down, restrain, or even torture a political dissident or practitioner of unsanctioned religion. It's China, what do you expect?

    Besides, if American firms don't sell them what they want, they'll either buy it elsewhere or rip off a foreign design and make it themselves.
  • US Big Brother (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mulhollandj ( 807571 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:25PM (#16109714)
    It is interesting how much we blast China for not giving freedoms to its citizens. Do not US citizens realize the same thing is happening to them?
    • It's because those who realize that our freedoms are being eroded over here are the same people who cry foul about Chinese citizen's rights. Regarding everyone else: My mother-in-law can't be bothered twice about such things. She knows what she hears on the evening news and can't be troubled to comprehend 'the facts' when I present them to her -- even when I meticulously back up such facts with duly cited resources and sources.

      It's like the Colbert Report Incarnate..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Xyrus ( 755017 )
      Some do, most don't.

      Keep the majority thinking that they're happy, and you could slaughter innocent civilians and get away with.

      For reference, see Iraq War 2.

      ~X~
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Also China is nice to it's citizens in comparison to countries where they may on-sell this technology to like North Korea. Once you let the "top secret" tech out to the unscrupulous it ends up wherever it will end up - who would have thought that classified technology given to Israel would be put in tanks sold to China and then sold again to Iran within a couple of years of it's development?

      I'm curious as to why people think this thing is worse than arms sales - selling mustard gas to Iraq in 1990 and anth

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:30PM (#16109730)

    What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and in the end lose his very soul?

    If you need an argument against secularization of the culture (as opposed to the government), then look no further than capitalism completely unrestrained by any influence from the Protestant Christian tradition that gave birth to it.

    Or, as the Communists used to say, "the Capitalists will sell us the rope we will use to hang them."

    • Or, as the Communists used to say, "the Capitalists will sell us the rope we will use to hang them."

      And we all saw how that worked out for them...
    • look no further than capitalism completely unrestrained by any influence from the Protestant Christian tradition that gave birth to it.

      This is a ridiculous statement. Capitalism isn't something created by government or religion, it is the absence of both. It has been around way before Protestant Christian "tradition"... any civilization that relied on bartering... there's your capitalism.
  • Who is Scarier? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Skewray ( 896393 )
    Really, is high tech scarier in the hands of China's gov't, or the USA's? I bet most people in the world think the American gov't
    is pretty scary right now.
    • I think it's safe to say that anyone who finds the U.S. government scarier than that of China is either uninformed or stupid (or both). I like the Daily Show as much as anyone else, but the picture painted by it is not really fair - it's a comedy, and unlike in China it is legal and common to criticize the U.S. government on national T.V.. I'm not saying that the U.S.'s image hasn't taken a hit internationally, just that - jeez, perspective, people.
      • by Skewray ( 896393 )
        I am an American citizen. I've been to China ten times. I speak Chinese. My wife is Chinese. I guess that makes me informed but stupid. On what are you basing *your* experience?
        • Well, despite your assumption, I have also traveled quite a bit in Asia, but that is irrelevant.

          I did not say that I disliked China or the Chinese. I did not say anything bad about the culture, people, or even tendency to throw anything that crawls, swims, or flies into the night's dinner.

          However, if you think that you are safer living under the authority of the Chinese government than you are under the American government, then you are not informed. Either that, or you are so consumed with all things Chi

          • by Skewray ( 896393 )
            What does freedom of speech have to do with how safe I am? What does freedom of thought have to do with how safe I am? Your response is full of irrelevancies. As I travel about the world, I am much more likely to be kidnapped or murdered because I am an American. No one will bother my wife. Who is safer?
            • I thought we were talking about which government was scarier? How did you get the impression that safety while traveling was linked to that? Or were you thinking that your wife is safe(r) because of her benevolent government? And in my mind, "rotting in jail" because I said something not on a government's safe list is not part of "safe". Tell you what, go into Beijing and start handing out bibles or human rights literature - see where that gets you. Then come to New York and start handing out government con
  • Real useful law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @06:39PM (#16109786) Homepage Journal
    However, the restrictions have been applied narrowly, and effectively prevent only low-tech exports such as handcuffs, helmets, fingerprint powder, and tear gas

    I'm sure that really makes a big difference. You know, since China is such a small country with few resources, there's just no way they could manufacture stuff like that domestically. Yeah, I know, it's the principle of it all (or, in other words, a bill a politician could sponsor to make them appear moral).

    Unfortunately far too many laws are created so politicians can simply be seen doing something. Sort of like in our town, where a lady was killed in a car accident a few years ago (because her cat was loose in her car and she was messing around with it and pulled out in front of a truck), so the town quickly changed the intersection to a 4-way stop. Now hundreds of drivers are inconvenienced daily just because the local government wanted to do something the newspaper could write about.

    Dan East
  • by Introspective ( 71476 ) on Thursday September 14, 2006 @07:16PM (#16109961) Homepage
    while DB software, two-way radios, DNA analysis gear, and video probes, are allowed

    And these items could also be very useful for disaster response and relief - in other words, humanitarian aid.

    The poster seems to be struggling to make a political point where there is simply not enoungh evidence which clearly defines what these things will be used for.

  • The unserious comment:

    Hey, why don't we sell them the FBI's security software? We can invade them while they're trying to click through all the error messages.

    The serious comment:

    This article is bait for all the foil hat wearers and doomsayers to come out of the woodworks whining about our governments and the governments of the world. Let's face it people. You get up in the morning, you brush your teeth, you go earn your paycheck, and presumably you have enough free time to post on this website! What "civil
  • and it happens to be money.

    What I really fear is the torture that Tibetans are going to endure before the Olympic games. They're gonna be looking for a platform and China is probably just gonna round 'em up.

    Yet, the more you get China hooked on the milk from the capitalist tit the closer you are going to come to something resembling revolution and the ousting of Communism. It's moving pretty fast now.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Yet, the more you get China hooked on the milk from the capitalist tit
      I've never been to China, but from talking to a several Chinese people it appears that China is already the most capitalist country on earth. People will buy and sell anything in China as distinct from the more regulated west.
    • by Denial93 ( 773403 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @07:48AM (#16112520)
      >What I really fear is the torture that Tibetans are going to endure before the Olympic games. They're gonna be looking for a platform and China is probably just gonna round 'em up.

      You underestimate the Chinese. They're going to run a huge campaign where happy Tibetans in traditional-but-clean garments smile into cameras before magnificent Himalaya skylines and say how much better their country is after the Chinese helped them electrify it, and how the Dalai Lama and his guys are really just a bunch of old theocrats who want their dictatorship back. There'll be local representatives ready for interviewing, guided tours through Tibet (with really helpful translators so journalists can converse with the locals freely) and all sorts of helpful press maps/video clips/etc. After all, this is the perfect opportunity: the Chinese will, temporarily, have all the media in the World to press down the Party's version of the story in everyone's minds.

      Unruly Tibetans aren't going to be rounded up before the games (because the World could find out), but will be temporarily arrested "to prevent violence" during the games, to be seriously rounded up a bit later when the World has grown tired of China for a while, and looks somewhere else.
  • ...in which the technology can be used to track dissidents and unauthorized religions.

    We'd best be careful, here. Until recently ( 6 or so years?), we were falling behind in tracking our own dissidents and non-christians.

    But we're beginning to catch up, and this congress will soon put in place means so that we can get around those pesky laws/regulations which prevented us from doing this in the past.....
  • I really disagree that supression of religions is something that the Chinese government does wrong. You only need to look at at America with its far greater level of violence to see that religion can bring a society to its knees. Or Zimbabwe, with its great religious tolerance record. Religious tolerance is an inadequate measure of freedom in a society. Iran is also a society with great religious freedom, where Muslims can practice their faith without limit. Is that a society that should be emulated?

    Religio
  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Friday September 15, 2006 @03:52AM (#16111766)
    What about the comapnies who help the US governement spy on their people? Are the bad, or are they patritic?

    I don't have a problem with anybody selling anything to China. I do have a problem with the Chineese policy and politics and I would love to see an embargo that forbids any country doing business with that country.

    Yet an emargo needs to come from the country, not from the company.

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