Thursday, 26 January 2006

Business in China

China has always been an intriguing country, not just because of the vastness of the country, the language, history, cuisine or society . Ever since the Socialist government of the country has decided to open up their markets for non-Chinese companies, it has become interesting for companies as well. Companies have tried to gain acces to a market that has potentialy more than 1 billion customers. Needless to say there's alot of money involved.

But doing business in China is different because of its politics. Microsoft had to take down a blog, Yahoo had to give information and Google has to modify it's search page. And not surprisingly there have been numerous articles written against these policies (even by own employees). But why is this a surprise? Why does it come as a shock? Don't people know that's what companies have to do?

Don't get the wrong impression. Freedom of speech is a right that every person on the planet should have. And the fact that certain governments (who are there for the people in the first place) censor that right is appalling.

But it's what companies have to do to keep on doing business in certain countries like China. Or North Korea. Or Iran. You have to get with the governments program or you're out. Simple as that. And as soon as a company goes to China (or any of the other countries for that matter) they know this is going to happen. Same as for doing business in Europe, the US or any other free market economy, as a company you have to play by the rules. Pay your taxes. Keep to the law. Same goes for China, only the rules are more strict. And sometimes even morally wrong.

So protesting now is a little late (although it never hurts). These companies have already decided they're gonna do whatever it takes to succeed on the Chinese market. They decided they're gonna live with the moral implications of working with a government that takes away human rights from their citizens. They decided that on the moment they said: "Let's get a presence on the Chinese market". It was bound to happen. Keep on questioning and protesting this business strategy but don't be surprised. It is the cost for doing business there.


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