Foreign Ideas and Contributions

It is somewhat funny (and very serious actually) that some large countries’ governments think that they have the liberty and authority to prosecute folks who are not their citizens when it comes to certain ideas.

Yes, ideas. And, we are now in the 21st Century !

The United States has pursued terrorists overseas, but has not taken actions against people who hold views contrarian to its official positions on global issues. The U.S. government’s policies diverge from many peoples’ views on government intervention in other countries, but that does not put pressure on anyone to conform with its views.

However, the Government of China has a different view on certain global ideas, thoughts, and peaceful actions which it considers are anti-China. It is bringing a draft law which will now control all foreign agencies, especially the NGO’s. This law has draconian features which will curtail the activities of anyone in China, who is considered to have anti-China positions. China could retaliate in any number of ways against foreign organizations and individuals under the guise of national security. This one act is going to have a huge impact on foreign activities in China in the near future.

We always know that ideas are the most powerful weapon in anyone’s arsenal. Countless numbers of people over many centuries have been imprisoned for their ideas in their respective countries. But what is unique nowadays is that countries, especially the large ones, can come after you for any number of reasons though you are not in those countries and live elsewhere. The United States made famous their policy of “rendition”, unfortunately that has become standard lexicon, but that applied only to terrorists. But what about idea terrorists ?

The country which tolerates these kind of ideas folks is the U.K. It has had a long history of tolerance, but that is now wearing thin, given the extremism it is facing. Many other countries are generally liberal and tolerant to a certain extent. But China is soon going to emerge as the most intolerant country in the world.

This is not a good idea. China has developed into a global superpower not simply on its own. It has sought new ideas, new people, new processes, new technologies, et al. Where will China be if there are no customers for its huge manufacturing output globally ? China has to become tolerant and not get unduly worried about “foreign” influences. Then only it can continue to grow. Retaliatory measures, as envisaged in the new law, will be counterproductive and damage the Chinese economy.

One only hopes that saner minds will prevail over the more extreme views within the China Government. China should continue to engage with the world in more ways, not any less. And both the world and China will be losers if the law is passed.


Vijay Srinivasan

6th June 2015


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