Margot Wallström, the Vice-President of the European Commission, Inter-Institutional Relations and Communications Strategy, wrote in her blog:
To eliminate poverty and social exclusion is on my agenda for global political action. So is freedom and democracy. And I was very disappointed to learn that Microsoft has agreed to block Chinese blog entries that use words like “democracy“, “freedom“, “human rights“ and “demonstration.”
It seems like Microsoft is not alone in “bad company“. Google has agreed to exclude publications that the Chinese government finds objectionable. And Yahoo has even gone further. They collaborated with the Chinese government and gave up the name of a writer who sent an e-mail that commented on a party decision. Based on this information, the man received a ten-year prison sentence.
According to the organisation Human Rights Watch these companies are hiding behind statements claiming that they “have to ensure that they operate within the laws, regulations and customs of the countries they are based in”.
Words like ethics and corporate social responsibility seems to be deleted from their corporate code of conducts – or they have flexible ethical standards depending on where they operate… I can only recommend these companies to visit the website of the UN Global Compact at www.unglobalcompact.org. And, hope that these companies one day will understand that to endorse democracy and corporate responsibility is a prerequisite for “smart” growth. From now on, this issue is also on my political agenda.
The BBC has picked this up (Hi-tech firms censured over China) and it’s gaining wider currency in the press. Also, from the BBC account:
Comments left by readers on her blog said the EC too should examine its record on relations with China.