In an earlier blog (criticizing Time Magazine's Man of the Year Award) I was taken to task for being anti-Bill Gates, which I slightly am. Though I don't consider myself a playa hater, there's somehting about the way Microsoft works that rubs me the wrong way. For example, take the case of Zhao Jing (also known as Michael Anti), a Chinese journalist and blogger who has spoken out against censorship in China. Microsoft has blocked the journalist's blog and also defended the practice. (Yahoo has acted in a similarly collaborative fashion.) The argument that business is business and that they are abiding by the rules of the host country only goes so far. IBM (as well other American companies), as we know today, justified working with the Nazis along similar lines. While we are officially at peace with China, the excesses of its dictatorship are well documented. Additionally, Microsoft is in the enviable position of being the only game in town; it's not as if China can kick Microsoft out and go elsewhere to get the job done. One wonders what would have happened -- or what kind of threats the Chinese made -- had Microsoft not complied. Perhaps it has something to do with the pirating of software, which is probably China's biggest export. Here Gates can make a huge difference in the lives of the oppressed Chinese people, but he'd rather make a donation and wind up on the cover of a magazine.
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