Cisco: The Chinese dictators' best friend

Cisco is helping Chinese authorities crack down on dissidents, possibly in violation of U.S. law, reports Business Week. Doesn't the company realize there are more important things in life than pursuit of the almighty buck?

According to the newsweekly, Cisco has been marketing networking and surveillance gear to Chinese police, helping them set up a campaign to crack down on dissidents, called Golden Shield.

The newspaper claims, "In Chinese-language brochures distributed at a police-technology trade show in Shanghai in 2002, Cisco repeatedly referred to its gear with such phrases as 'strengthening police control' and 'increasing social stability.'

It adds that at the show, Cisco surrounded its booth with "video screens showing California police officers using Cisco mobile handsets linked to databases of surveillance footage" as a way to show off what its gear could do to help the Chinese authorities.

Cisco isn't alone in this. IBM, Oracle and others do the same.

The newspaper says that the sale of this kind of technology to Chinese police appears"to be at odds with the intent of an American export law enacted after the massacre of hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989, which prohibit the export "of any crime control or detection instruments or equipment" to China.

Harry Wu, a former Chinese political prisoner now living in the U.S., told a House subcommittee on human rights in February that "manufacturers of handcuffs aren't allowed to sell their products to China's police, but Cisco and other companies are selling Chinese authorities much more useful technology."

It's time that Cisco and others stopped selling to the Chinese police. There is a greater good than the bottom line --- it's called freedom, and a clear conscience.

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