14 February, 2006

the ‘new’ yahoo

Before appearing in front of a Congressional hearing, Yahoo has decided to issue guidelines on how it is an ethical internet company. Rebecca gives Yahoo’s newest document a review and finds the company’s ethical guidelines vague and hollow.:


So. Let’s see. The second bullet point would be the one pertaining to hand-over of dissident information to the police. Yahoo! will probably claim that since its Chinese partner Alibaba now runs its Chinese e-mail service, there is nothing it can do… However such an argument would be a cop-out. Yahoo.com.cn is still a Yahoo-branded product. What happens to user data is being done under an American company’s name and that company is certainly morally responsible. User trust in their brand will be damaged no less than if Yahoo.com.cn were 100% run by American Yahoo! employees. Yahoo! really has two choices with its e-mail service: move it out of Chinese jurisdiction and thus most likely management, or make it MUCH more clear and obvious to the user (beyond the dense terms of service and user agreement that nobody reads) that their personal data is no more secure on Yahoo! than it is on any of the Chinese e-mail service providers.

AsiaPundit is particularly puzzled by the statement’s claim that Yahoo will strive to be as transparent as possible: “We will strive to achieve maximum transparency to the user.”

Yahoo China does not disclose that search results are censored, which Google.cn did at launch and as Microsoft has started to do with MSN Spaces. Yahoo/Alibaba’s “maximum transparency” is less than the bare minimums offered by Google and MSN.

Yahoo fails in transparency in other areas. It will not reveal the number of warrants it has received from the Chinese government - surely if such things are just a normal legal procedure they would be documented. It will not say where its servers were located when it handed over user data that was used to prosecute dissidents. It will try to direct questions about a 2003 incident on its China partner - with which it did not join until 2005.

Yahoo deliberately tries to be as opaque as possible.

Logo stolen from Boing Boing, which also has links to an NPR item on the company’s latest China scandal.

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by @ 11:08 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia, Media, Censorship

boom or bubble?

China Confidential suggests that Western journalists tend to report on China’s miracle economy while the Japanese tend to see China as a bubble economy that’s ready to burst.

While Western news media still use words like miracle and boom to describe China’s fast-growing economy–the world’s fastest–Japanese newspapers are increasingly inclined to see it as a bubble bound to burst. An opinion article “Could China’s Red-Hot Economy Collapse?” in the Feb 11 Asahi Shimbun is an interesting example. The article, attributed to Professor Lim Hua Sing at Waseda University’s Graduate School of Asia-Pacific Studies, draws parallels between the current overheated, asset-based Chinese economy and Japan’s fatal boom of 15 years ago. Excerpts appear below.

The Chinese economy has been steaming ahead for several years, fueled mainly by a construction boom and rapid growth in the auto industry. A lot of momentum is also coming from strong exports (especially to the United States) and two big upcoming national events: the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and the world exposition in Shanghai in 2010.

Observers have been warning for some time about the overheating of investment in the construction and auto sectors. Many point out that Chinese industry is awash in excess capacity, causing a large output gap between actual and potential production. The Chinese steel industry, for instance, produced 350 million tons of steel in 2005 but has the capacity to produce 470 million tons annually. When new plants currently under construction go online, production capacity will top 600 million tons.

Being somewhat of a bear, AsiaPundit does not agree with the assessment that the Western press unilaterally view China as a miracle. While State-side reporters may overplay both the China promise and threat, other China hands would consider the notion of China’s booming marketplace as risible.

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by @ 9:29 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

china unloved

Foreign Policy reports that global opinions on whether China influence in the world is positive or negative took a sharp turn last year, with opinions of the country sliding in just about every country surveyed.:

Russia and China both revealed their harsher sides in 2005, and they seem to have paid a price in popularity. China’s hard-line anti-secession law targeting Taiwan, its fueling of anti-Japan sentiments, and an internal crackdown on civil society are likely to have contributed to its drop in the polls. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s growing authoritarianism at home and opposition to democracy movements in Russia’s “near abroad” sent its popularity sharply downward. The good news? Russians and Chinese are still quite fond of themselves


(via China Challenges)


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by @ 9:28 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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