The great firewall of China is a manifestation of the oppressive regime that denies the Chinese people their basic rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The recent action taken by Google to leave China is a move in the right direction. However, Google, like other U.S firms in China, played a deceitful role in abetting the injustice perpetrated by the Chinese government. Google as a company enjoyed the rights guaranteed by the U.S constitution, while they helped an oppressive regime deny it to billions of citizens. Furthermore, abetting an oppressive regime suppress and subjugate its citizens is unethical from any moral standpoint. Therefore, it is a moral imperative to help bring down the firewall and give China access to free and fair information.
However, considering different ethical theories, the issue at hand is certainly a grey area. The three main ethical theories, ethical relativism, utilitarianism and deontological, come into a clash. It is understandable that Google, as a company, tried to tap into a wider market of more than a billion. However, it is not a morally commendable act. Helping others perpetrate an unjust act is never morally acceptable. Although not practical, the moral high ground would be to help Chinese citizens fight against the firewall. Instead of stooping to the demands of the Chinese government, U.S firms should wage a war for free information. If all the U.S firms unite in fighting the firewall by setting up proxy servers, outside of China, the great firewall will soon crumble.
The solution of stopping business with China altogether is a permissible act because it prevents the firms from participating in the wrongdoing. The other solution of continuing and complying with the Chinese policies is impermissible. It is a good business strategy to tap into the Chinese market of more than a billion people. Even commendable from a deontological perspective, it is the duty of the company to maximize revenue at all costs.
Ethical relativism could also be used to justify the participation of U.S firms to comply with the Chinese government. Each culture has its own moral guidelines. Chinese culture and values differ from that of the western civilization by a wide margin; hence, such a firewall can be seen as imperative and justifiable. One can certainly argue that the Chinese government has the best interests of its citizens. Hence, a strict regulation of information is needed to better the condition of Chinese people of more than a billion. The increasing economic prowess of China in recent years does shade light to such an idea. However, the double faceted policies that U.S firms exhibit by working in unison with the Chinese government are not easily justified.
On one hand, Google has the motto of “do no evil” and promotes free and open policies for information interchange. On the other hand, it participated in the unjust perpetrated by the Chinese government which is hypocritical. It is a moral...