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The China Cultural Clash

Ben Thompson:

I am increasingly convinced this is the point every company dealing with China will reach: what matters more, money or values?

John Gruber summarizes Ben’s points really well:

The gist of it is that 25 years ago, when the West opened trade relations with China, we expected our foundational values like freedom of speech, personal liberty, and democracy to spread to China.

Instead, the opposite is happening. China maintains strict control over what its people see on the Internet — the Great Firewall works. They ban our social networks where free speech reigns, but we accept and use their social networks, like TikTok, where content contrary to the Chinese Community Party line is suppressed.

Worse, multinational mega corporations like Apple and Disney are put in a bind — they must choose between speaking up for values such as the right to privacy and freedom of speech, or making money in the Chinese market.

And Nilay Patel makes a great comparison:

It’s not hard to understand that carmakers in the US market build to California emissions standards because they are the strictest - it’s the most efficient choice.

Not a leap to think global companies will hold themselves to China’s speech restrictions for the same reason.