An opinion piece from the Wall Street Journal:
Just imagine what China would look like if its pragmatic, development-minded leaders had kept the Internet out. Mainlanders would not have been able to sign online petitions, read as many outside news reports, write blogs, and post their comments on “sensitive” topics. Foreign companies like Google, Yahoo and Microsoft may not have descended on the scene. More generally, think in terms of that Milton Friedman-esque link between economic and political liberty. With forces like the Internet ushering in development and commercial opportunities, can political freedom really be that far behind?
Some of those optimists may have underestimated Beijing; or at least its willingness to unleash tens of thousands of Internet police–on top of firewalls and the like–to keep the Web in check. And while the entrance of foreign companies may ultimately play a positive role in increasing access to information (more news is good news, right?), in the short term they are paying a price. [Full text]