back to article A tale of two Chinas: Our tech governance isn't perfect, but we still get to say no

Which China do you want? The innovative good global citizen, adding to the storehouse of knowledge while making better products and services? Or the autocracy, determined to advance the interests of the leadership through any and all means, untrammeled by legal safeguards within its borders and, wherever possible, outside them …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "the autocracy, determined to advance the interests of the leadership through any and all means, untrammeled by legal safeguards within its borders and, wherever possible, outside them"

    Sounds like a good summary of the USA's policies for at least the past quarter-century.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      It's worth looking at the whole world's policies for the last few thousand years ... Like China, there is a Good West and a Bad West ... I don't see China as better than the West or the West as better than China, because when you just look at the current issues we are only each political country attacking another for personal benefits.

      How will this change in the future? It's never improved in the past. We need to all work to be "The Earth" not just little political counties, otherwise will our current climate problems stay unfixed to only benefit one country? If we don't fix our climate issues soon then in a few thousand years we might start to look like Mars.

      It would be so much nicer and we would all be happy if we were all Earth people, not just individual country people - a better future for everyone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "If we don't fix our climate issues soon then in a few thousand years we might start to look like Mars."

        You utter clown.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A24fWmNA6lM

        1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

          LOL, I'll upvote you for an honest comment, you poor snivelling, miserable coward (LOL again and fair enough). My view is just that we're currently looking for traces of life on Mars as a result of seeing it once covered in water but now there is no water and nothing that suggests any current or recent life. So we need to work for a decent future on our planet, regardless of what countries are busy being these days.

      2. Chinamissing

        Except in many ways it has, countries united to defeat Hitler, Stalin and the such like. The United Nations may well be a talking shop but it is better to talk than war even if right now China and Russia are doing their level best to initiate a global war, either by directly invading a sovereign state (Russia) or by stealing land and islands and preventing countries from landing on their own territory (China) or by breaking international rules on overflying sovereign nations (China again.)

        On another scale, reparations, sharing of medicine and global conferences and laws that have had an impact on climate, on investment and the such like. Sure it is not all perfect and there are a lot of gaps but humans do collaborate and things do get better. Life expectancy? reduction in various illnesses and others.

        As for not seeing China as worse or better. It is categorically worse, one party state, mass incarceration of entire regions, concentration camps, people who disagree with the party line, vanishing (anyone want to be a female tennis player in China?), total removal of right to protest (HK) and the destruction of their legal system and way of life.

        I totally agree, a world where we act in the best interests of the world is a brilliant goal and people are working towards it and over time we will see significant changes and I like to think overall improvements. But to say that China and the West are equivalent is blinkered and wrong. You protest in China about your water companies polluting your river or the power/chicken farms destroying the environment and you will be shut down and possibly arrested. Certainly your social cohesion score will be impacted and so your ability to work, receive benefits reduced. None of this happens here. In fact the power of protest has forced companies and governments to change.

    2. DS999 Silver badge

      Except

      Sounds like a good summary of the USA's policies for at least the past quarter-century

      Except the US doesn't have a social media app half of China uses where they can tweak the algorithms that determine what content people see, like China does with Tik Tok in the US. Even if Five Eyes had full behind the scenes control of the algorithms on Facebook, Twitter, etc. it can't be used to influence Chinese citizens because they are blocked from seeing/using those platforms.

      1. TheGreatOz

        Re: Except

        "Except the US doesn't have a social media app half of China uses where they can tweak the algorithms that determine what content people see, like China does with Tik Tok in the US. Even if Five Eyes had full behind the scenes control of the algorithms on Facebook, Twitter, etc. it can't be used to influence Chinese citizens because they are blocked from seeing/using those platforms."

        The US doesn't need one app when it can mine all the US based apps by itself. The Five Eyes and the USA have long had access to all the data going in and out of the social media. The US social media companies MUST comply with US government directives and requests for any data they haven't already pilfered. The social media companies also have lucrative business with the USG (Musk, Meta)

        The reason for the TikTok ban is that there has been a 52 to 1 ratio of pro-Palestine/anti-Israel vs pro-Israel posts. Mitt Romney spoke on this recently.

        The US and friends have plenty of tools to censor what is seen - and they use them.

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Except

          You're missing the point. The concern is a country being able to influence the citizenry of its adversaries. Tik Tok allows China to do that to US citizens, but the US has no similar conduit to influence Chinese citizens.

          1. mevets

            Re: Except

            Western influence on China vastly outweighs China's influence on the west.

            Perhaps rightly this influence is viewed as evil by the establishment; but the battle is already lost.

            1. Freddie

              Re: Except

              Could you elaborate? I don't know how the west has this influence - my understanding is that most communications from the west don't make it to China. Ta!

  2. ArrZarr Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Obviously the CCP hoovering up data from their companies is bad, in a worse way than Meta, Alphabet et al., but it's really hard to actually feel that way when you know that the CCP has already bought all of our data from the big data brokers anyway.

    The other problem is that while the West's various surveillance programs were definitely found to have overstepped legality, it's hard to pinpoint any tangible outcomes outside of our own governments doing their level best to ensure that those same actions are no longer oversteps.

    I guess the issue is that while I know the CCP don't care about individual rights, the actions of our own government (and the rhetoric other major party) make me certain they don't care either.

    Anyway, if they overstep, they can just pass a law that says Rwanda is a safe place to send dissidents to.

    Hard not to feel hopeless at this mess we're in tbh. I'll go and cry quietly in the corner.

    1. Chinamissing

      And then get voted out and the rule overturned. Court cases will challenge it and people will protest and change will happen. There is a massive difference between the West (and in this instance the UK) and China. I mean, China doesn't need Rwanda when it has its own concentration camps housing millions in Xinjiang.

      There is no moral equivalency here, we have a system of checks and balances, that right now feel imbalanced and imperfect but they survive and they evolve because our system has them and because we still (for how long) have the rights and the people to check government and courts. China does not have that and will never have it. Technology will keep the CCP in power forever and oppress its people forever.

  3. Mister Jones

    Where Is George Santayana When You Need Good Advice?

    Quote: "China ... untrammeled by legal safeguards..."

    Remember the Snowden revelations? Yup...Fort Meade....untrammeled by legal safeguards...............

  4. amajadedcynicaloldfart

    Just maybe

    the United States of the "biggest donation the Government can be bought out with", should look into a mirror. And they will see... hypocrites

  5. TimMaher Silver badge
    Headmaster

    The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is…

    … for good men to do nothing. (Attr. Edmund Burke).

    Went to see “Civil War” in the local Everyman.

    That gave me sleepless nights for the best part of a week.

  6. tiago.pelicari

    As if american big techs didn't do just the same.

  7. martinusher Silver badge

    Its all a matter of opinion....

    This little article should give you pause for thought:-

    https://off-guardian.org/2024/05/06/how-freedom-dies-from-a-to-z/

    Its got nothing particularly new in it, its just an inventory of the "they can't do that" things that are done everyday in the US, so much so that we've normalized them. (..and don't think the UK is any different). The fact is that governments are governments and people exhibit the wide range of 'good' and 'bad' no matter where you are so there's no excuse for this entire 'us' and 'them' business. This just tends to be bad people pushing an agenda, sowing division for their own benefit.

  8. cantankerous swineherd

    the chinese can't screw my life up the way Western surveillance can: employment, insurance, credit, health care, none of these are at risk from chinese data hoovering.

  9. Ossi

    Grow Up

    Look at the comments here. It's like you didn't read the article at all. It's just the same old lazy ill-informed platitudes showing not the slightest ability to understand the complexities of the situation. Snowden blah, blah, blah. States need secrets, and that leads to abuses. But if you think it's just the same in the US as in China, you really need to get out more. Go and live in another culture. Experience the world.

    You sound like someone looking at a starving person and saying "I know you're dying of starvation, but I didn't manage to get breakfast today, so it's just as bad for me." It isn't. It just isn't. You've protested. You've been rude to politicians on Twitter. Those comments are still there. Nothing's happened to you. Nothing's happened to your friends, family, colleagues and neighbours. Where are those stories? Self-pitying nonsense.

    1. ArrZarr Silver badge

      Re: Grow Up

      It's worse in China than the UK/US, sure.

      That doesn't mean that the various governments in the UK/US haven't spent the last 70 years chipping away at any sort of moral high ground they could possibly claim. It's not that the West (as a whole) is a worse place to live than China (which is looking more and more like the biggest economic bubble in history and that's not going to be fun for anybody when it pops), it's that it's so easy for China or Russia to point to <terrible thin the US has done> and say "Well if they can do it, why can't I?".

      Russia can invade Ukraine and point to the US messing with Iraq (1959) or Iraq (1963) or Iraq (1991) or Iraq (1992-1996) or Iraq (2003-2021).

      China can slurp TikTok things and point to Five Eyes or Snowden stuff.

      So yes. The West is better to live in than China, despite the late-stage authoritarian-capitalist dystopia that we are heading towards, but this is an example of why eating your high horse alive is a bad idea.

    2. Filippo Silver badge

      Re: Grow Up

      I wish I could upvote you more.

      Me: They're doing bad.

      Mate: Yes, but we're doing bad too.

      Me: Yes, and we should fix that - but they're doing worse.

      Mate: No, I read about this thing that happened once here six months ago, that was exactly the same as the thing that happens a hundred times a day over there, so we're actually the same.

      God, I'm so tired of those conversations.

  10. PhilipN Silver badge

    "Australian think tank" - chuckle

    Starts off with :

    "Background: why the CCP wants to control truth"

    Now there's an unbiased, independent and objective basis and assumption from which to begin preparing a report.

    Horribly one-sided throughout.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like