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On Megyn Kelly’s podcast, billionaire tech investor David Sacks claimed that “the CCP is essentially depriving Americans of their free speech rights – not in China, but on American soil – as a condition of doing business over there.”
Sacks spoke of Beijing’s influence in the world, the persecution of the Uyghurs, the theft of American intellectual property and Beijing’s cyber espionage, and the techno-totalitarianism — which through a digital social credit system — the Chinese government imposes on its own people. He added that:
“I have no business in China, so I feel fairly unencumbered in saying what I just said. But there are a lot of people who do business in China who just won’t speak out. Everybody understands that the quid pro quo of taking Chinese cash is that you never criticize them.”
Americans have seen leaders in the technology and entertainment industries, big Wall Street firms and elite universities bow to Beijing’s pressures. From sports heroes to cultural and political figures. Those who resist suffer serious economic consequences.
Chilean novelist, journalist and geopolitical analyst Sasha Hanning, who previously resided in the People’s Republic of China and is now banned from entering it, explains that among the tools of Beijing’s techno-totalitarianism stand out:
The Great Digital Wall. An intelligent censorship system for the Internet that blocks Chinese access to everything the totalitarian power does not want them to know and directs them to the propaganda of the party and the state.
Digital social credit system. An intelligent tracking system that permanently tracks the Chinese on the internet and in the real world, assigning points for obedience to the regime’s doctrine and subtracting points for any contrary or dubious opinions and actions. Low scorers are denied everything from jobs to the purchase of air and land tickets. Contact with low-scoring people subtracts personal points, with which the system pushes the population to isolate the dissident.
Universal surveillance system supported by public “private” co-responsibility. China has the most interconnected surveillance system with the highest number of cameras per person in the world and advanced facial recognition technologies. The system is supported by the legal obligation of Chinese technology companies to hand over their users’ browsing data to the State and to cooperate with intelligence in internal and external espionage, to monitor every aspect of every Chinese person’s thought and action.
Chinese “private” companies work within a vast system of social control managed by techno-totalitarianism, and with Chinese intelligence law they have to serve Beijing’s internal and external spying apparatus. So overseas they are both profitable businesses and agents of the Chinese intelligence apparatus.
What about foreign companies doing business in China? Beijing is buying off an elite of American businessmen, politicians, intellectuals and artists. It is not merely making those who take Chinese money “shut up,” but forcing others to pay the price for offending their Chinese “friends.”
On The Drill Down podcast with Peter Schweizer, Alex Marlow, editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, explained the case of media outlets like NBC, which has the exclusive on the Beijing Olympics. The channel is part of NBCUniversal, which in turn is part of Comcast, which has significant business in China with Universal Studios and its Chinese theme park.
ABC News, Marlow added, is owned by Disney, which has theme park and other businesses in China. The Atlantic Monthly and Axios, Marlow noted, are owned by Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Steve Jobs whose fortune is in Apple and Disney, whose profits depend on its business in China. Media mogul Michael Bloomberg, Marlow said, has “most access to China than any major media conglomerate” but “Bloomberg News has to extend its contract every two years, so he goes over there to kiss the ring.”
Guillermo Rodríguez is a professor of Political Economy in the extension area of the Faculty of Economic and Administrative Sciences at Universidad Monteávila, in Caracas. A researcher at the Juan de Mariana Center and author of several books // Guillermo es profesor de Economía Política en el área de extensión de la Facultad de Ciencias Económicas y Administrativas de la Universidad Monteávila, en Caracas, investigador en el Centro Juan de Mariana y autor de varios libros