While Presidents George W. Bush of the U.S and Hu Jintao of China met in Beijing yesterday Nov. 20, to discuss issues of trade, the expansion of personal freedoms and protection of intellectual property rights, the one-day meeting was more about symbolism than substance. The meeting occurred after a crackdown of Chinese dissidents and no questions from the press were allowed during the joint appearance between Bush and Jintao.
The issue of Internet freedom is also looming large for the world’s two largest Internet competitors. For a country of 1.3 billion, China is second in the world only to the U.S. with 103 million Internet users, compared to 203 million Americans. However, that number only represents 7.9 percent of China’s population, compared to 68 percent of the U.S.’s. This huge market is changing the way people do business with China — and as companies and citizens are discovering, it’s raising questions of whether it’s possible to do business ethically in the Middle Kingdom.