Friday, January 22, 2010

Human Rights Freedoms: Expression, Assembly, Association & the Press

China is accusing America of promoting "information imperialism" in this HuffPost article.

Let's just clarify a definition of imperialism: "The imposition of a foreign viewpoint or civilization on a people" [dictionary.reference.com] and "a policy of extending your rule over foreign countries [wordnetweb.com]."

Western countries have long-standing values of freedom of expression, assembly, association and the press. They believe all people are born with these rights, as John Kerry says here. I think China need not worry that Secretary Clinton is advocating a takeover or domination of China, but is merely asserting the idea of human rights in all its forms as central to American foreign policy.

The point China misses is contained in the word "free" - as in free flow of information. For some reason, Chinese people do not consider each other sufficiently responsible to access social networks and improve without barriers their sum of knowledge and such on the internet, but they are responsible enough to work, drive cars and buy houses.

How much sense does that make? Not a lot.

Laws have to be passed in China to expand basic human rights for all. They should pass laws to promote the truth of their country's history and encourage transparency of economic competition.

My point is that cleaning up the internet can go too far. If Chinese can't get information freely on the internet about previous uprisings and can't organize themselves as easily as they would with Facebook, then Beijing authorities should fear their own people, because they, the leaders, have not served well. Perhaps the Chinese should review and criticize their human rights ideologies.

Not only China, but also Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam are considered by the U.S. State Dept. to be countries without free flow of information.

These countries should not close down opportunities. They should not isolate, discriminate and persecute their citizens. The ideas of their good citizens can be shared on the internet if freedom of expression is accepted universally as a human right.

Social media brings people together, opens competitive international commerce and gives confidence to investors and business owners. These countries should open themselves up. They should be fair and respectful of individuals. Their citizens should be active, prosperous, engaged participants in the world community.

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