I have long argued that when a government engages in censorship, it makes it difficult to do business in that country.
Sure, companies can cut deals to build factories and export goods. But part of doing business is working with reliable numbers. And governments that engage in censorship do not stop with just making sure the media report the latest bit of propaganda. They reach into every bit of information, including economic data necessary to make solid business decisions.
Freedom House has a report that explains the impact Chinese censorship has on US businesses.
And is not just about cooking the books to make an economic plan look good. In China, it is all about controlling everything and limiting outside information that might challenge the official line.
- Between May and September 2014, photo-sharing applications Flickr and Instagram.
- Virtually all Google services were blocked.
- In December, Gmail access from third-party applications like Outlook or Apple mail was also disrupted
- Last summer, Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive were rendered inaccessible.
- In November, segments of Verizon’s Edgecast were blocked, affecting commercial platforms like Sony Mobile
In short, Chinese government policies make it difficult to work online and to get independent data necessary for business planning.
This impact on US (and other Western) companies has a direct relationship to our economic well-being.
So I would think, for our own understanding of the economy and economic development, we would need to have more and better reporting on the censorship policies of our trading partners.