This site has been sounding skeptical notes for months now about the Chinese Communist government. Now Google, annoyed by what appear to be Chinese government attempts to gain unauthorized access to the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, is threatening to pull out of Communist China entirely. "These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China," Google said. There's a lot that could be said about this, but here is one point you are unlikely to hear made elsewhere: The George W. Bush Institute and Freedom House have sure shown some fine foresight in scheduling, for May, a conference on "Cyber-Dissidents," focusing on "the use of online tools by dissidents promoting democratic change around the world."
That said, there aren't many businesses in the global economy that have the luxury or even the ability now of being able to pull out of China entirely. The country crops up where you sometimes least expect it. Last night, for example, there was an 80th birthday roast of Norman Podhoretz that was a fundraiser for Commentary magazine. Commentary has opened its pages to plenty of China hawks over the years, and you won't find a crowd or a magazine that takes a harder line on political freedom abroad. But there it was in the gift bag on your way out the door -- a Commentary coffee mug with a "made in China" label on the bottom.