Testimony of Ethan Gutmann – “Human Rights in China”

House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Africa, Global Human Rights and International Operations

Wednesday, April 19, 2006, 10:30 A.M.
2172 Rayburn House Office Building.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for inviting me to make a contribution to the Committee’s profoundly important work.

Approximately two months ago, your Committee heard representatives of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Cisco Systems defend their companies’ role in constructing China’s Internet. Simultaneously the Committee floated an extremely important draft – the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 – which appeared to place this committee and the aforementioned companies on a collision course. Some commentators, particularly those searching for a middle way, characterized the Online Freedom Act as an “overreaction.” I don’t agree. I believe that it is better characterized as a tragedy.

I would guess that few people in this room actually desire intrusive government intervention and oversight of U.S. companies. I certainly don’t. I’m a former consultant to American corporations operating in China and a former vice-chair of the Government Relations Committee for the American Chamber of Commerce Beijing. I’m also a former believer in the concept that we would change China, not that China would change us.