China, censorship and intellectual property

March 12, 2010

(This here is prompted by this piece on today’s Slashdot.)

Li insisted the government needs to censor Internet content to protect the rights of the country and its people.

“If there is information that harms stability or the people, of course we will have to block it,” he said.

Today’s post is me comparing a pair of apparent-but-opposite contradictions in the USA and China, and requesting some help with coming to understand the core ____ that they have in common.

Here in the US, we’re both:

A) all about freedom of speech, at least in principle (freedom)


B) relatively serious about protecting intellectual property (control).

OK.  So far so good.

Meanwhile, in China, they sure seem to be both:

C) quite intent and comfortable with using censorship to preserve order/stability/control/etc. (control),

…but also…

D) don’t give a crap about protecting intellectual property (freedom).


There’s a missing idea or principle here that can be used to “solve for”  these two apparent but opposite contradictions, in terms of our different cultural inputs.  But I can’t manage to grasp it without some help.

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