Jun 24

Green Dam Follow up – Stopping China Through the WTO

Written by Allen on Wednesday, June 24th, 2009 at 10:33 pm
Filed under:-mini-posts, Analysis, General, News, politics | Tags:, , , ,
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The Green Dam controversy continues. Most recently, U.S. trade officials also seem to be getting into the act. The following is an excerpt from a recent WSJ report:

Senior U.S. trade officials called on China to revoke an order for personal computers to be shipped with Web-filtering software, saying the requirement could conflict with Beijing’s obligations under the World Trade Organization.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke urged the Chinese government to reverse its decision in a joint letter submitted to two Chinese ministries Wednesday. The letter said the software rule also raised concerns about censorship and Internet security.

It was the highest-level U.S. complaint so far against the rule, which is due to take effect July 1 and has already angered free-speech advocates and industry groups.  The letter, sent separately to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the Ministry of Commerce, said the Chinese move raises “fundamental questions” about regulatory transparency and compliance with a number of WTO rules. WTO rules include agreements that are meant to prevent governments from erecting protectionist barriers to trade.

“China is putting companies in an untenable position by requiring them, with virtually no public notice, to pre-install software that appears to have broad-based censorship implications and network security issues,” Mr. Locke said, according to a statement.

The U.S. letters “expressed that the U.S. government is seriously concerned about the Green Dam [requirement], including wide-ranging concerns about the scope of the measure, the censorship implications, trade impact and security flaws which create serious problems for the IT industry and Chinese consumers,” a U.S. official said.

The official indicated concerns have been magnified by the Chinese government’s unwillingness to explain the intent and scope of the new measure, which was introduced at short notice. On Friday, U.S. officials from the State and Commerce departments, as well as U.S. Trade Representative officials based in Beijing, met with officials from the MIIT and Ministry of Commerce to express concerns that Green Dam would restrict access to the Internet and infringe on “internationally recognized rights to freedom of expression,” a U.S. Embassy spokesman said.

China’s state-run Xinhua news agency Wednesday quoted Jinhui’s founder, Bryan Zhang, as saying his company received more than 1,000 harassing calls from inside and outside China, as well as attacks by hackers, since the Green Dam requirement was made public this month.

“Most of the calls came at late night, cursing our staff and uttering obscenities, voicing their resentment against the software,” Xinhua quoted Mr. Zhang as saying.

While Western concerns regarding “freedom of expression” in China always “touches” my heart at some levels – this latest development to me smacks of more attempts to interfere with Chinese government power to regulate its own internal affairs.

The U.S. is claiming that China’s requiring Green Dam to be provided with new computers (whether installed on the computer or provided on an installation CD – I’m leaving that debate alone here) inhibits trade. Providing Green Dam is allegedly so complex that China should have notified the WTO earlier and given foreign firms more time to prepare for the change in the name of fair trade.

This is absurd…

Do you know how many pre-installed software usually ships with a computer box (even the cheapest ones) these days?  Utilities, multimedia applications, Internet programs, office suites, internet access, antivirus-antiphishing-antispyware software, browsers, games, etc., etc.  The fact that these computer manufacturers now have to provide one more software now makes trade with China unfairly burdensome?

If Green Dam is burdensome, perhaps the installation of Chinese versions of OS and various software in computers to be sold in China should also all be considered a burden?

I am not advocating for Green Dam (as I have admitted in a previous comment, I don’t like Green Dam), but I am advocating against using whatever opportunity available (Green Dam in this case) to smear and attack China. Besides, in this case, hijacking the WTO for political expediency is not only disingenuous, but also hogs up precious resources that can better be deployed to solve real economic problems – such as the world financial crisis.

It is highly unlikely that this tactic by the U.S. would scare the Chinese government. China has come a long way in the last 10-15 years and now has pretty strong WTO expertise herself. The U.S. could have started a conversation about the censorship software requirement with the Chinese government, but instead chooses now to make a scene.

Irrespective of where you stand with respect  to Green Dam, does everyone agree with me that the WTO is not the place to take up political issues such as censorship?

Or do some people think that WTO is a perfectly legitimate forum to bring all issues touched by trade – including political issues such as censorship, human rights, democracy, etc.?

There are currently 1 comments highlighted: 40292.

52 Responses to “Green Dam Follow up – Stopping China Through the WTO”

  1. Steve Says:

    Allen, I’m no lawyer so I really can’t comment on whether the case has merit or not. Obviously you think it doesn’t. But if it has no merit, then the ruling will favor China and problem solved, right?

    The major computer manufacturers are in China, the States and Japan. Both the States and Japan have problems with this software, and have brought it up with the appropriate authorities. I have no idea what the WTO rules are and how they would apply to this situation. Are any of us experts in this area? If not, then we should not jump to conclusions.

    “Smear and attack China” sounds pretty defensive and thin-skinned to me. Since when does a complaint against a particular regulation through appropriate channels suddenly become a “smear and attack”?

    I’m with you on “freedom of expression” though. Since when did that become a universal right? In fact, I can’t even find it in our own constitution. Oh, I forgot. It’s an IMPLIED right! 😉

  2. huaren Says:

    My view is on a strategic level, U.S. trade officials are generally pro trade between the countries. I am a firm believer in “cooperatition.” Why would the U.S. side make a big fuss (through WTO)?

    1. I think it sends a message domestically in the U.S. that they are tough and gains Obama administration political points with those “human rights” minded citizens.

    2. Depending on how China reacts on this pressure, this further educates the U.S. side on how to leverage controversies for purposes of trade dealings.

    Also, I think there is another big theme at play (though I am not sure how readily you guys see the connection):

    In general, the U.S. would like China to make minimal requirements on U.S. products/services so as much as possible can be sold “as is”.

    China would like foreign corporations to comply with certain rules and regulations – obviously to the benefit of the Chinese.

    These two will always be tugging at each other.

    So, I see this theme as almost “normal” when you have two big countries trade with each other and when they are different.

  3. Allen Says:

    @Steve #1,

    Yes – I don’t think this case has merits, but I am stating that as a personal opinion here – not as a professional opinion (since I haven’t researched very carefully precisely what the legal case is – only what I glance from the media…).

    About the “smear and attack” language. Hey – this is a blog! I can choose to be thin-skulled sometimes! 😉

  4. pug_ster Says:

    What I am surprised at is that this letter is coming from Gary Locke. I recall that Chinadaily has high praises for this guy when he was appointed to be the commerce secretary and now I think this guy is going to get stonewalled for this. Oh well.

  5. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #3: When I heard “smear and attack”, it made me think of Rumsfeld and his “shock and awe”, for some reason. 😛

  6. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I also have the opinion that this case has no merit.

    worse, it is becoming a pattern of harassment suits against China using the WTO.

    Frankly, it’s the kettle calling the pot black, when US has so far refused to honor WTO’s $21 million judgment against US on the internet gambling ban case, filed by Antigua.

    US is not a moral authority to talk violation of WTO rules on the Internet.

    If US continues to harass China with these baseless WTO suits, China will likely be forced to respond with similar WTO suits (perhaps join the Antigua case against US?)

    It’s just hostile publicity stunt to please the lobbyists. No other reason for these suits.

  7. Wukailong Says:

    thin-skulled = thin-skinned?

    Given the associations you get from the words, you would think thin-skulled means somebody who usually breaks down under pressure. 😉

  8. Wukailong Says:

    @raventhorn4000: “US is not a moral authority to talk violation of WTO rules on the Internet.”

    I agree with this. Unfortunately the US usually isn’t in the position to be a moral authority, UN being the main example.

  9. Allen Says:


    Yes – in this context thin-skinned = thin-skulled.

    I do crack under pressure – hence my tirade against smearing and attacking China with the slightest provocation! 😉

  10. MutantJedi Says:

    Yes, and the Olympics are only about sport. 🙂

    How much notification did the foreign companies have on the Green Dam requirement? Did they choose to ignore the evidence coming out of Beijing that something was going to be done. Certainly when Jinhui won the contract, somebody in the industry would have noticed. If nobody noticed then shame on the industry. If someone noticed and talked with Beijing about it, what was the dialog like?

    Allen, what is missing from your article is the consideration of the logistics of adding a CD to the box. It sounds simple enough. Just add a CD to the box. Done. But it isn’t that simple. Where does the CD come from? It it shipped from China? Does Jinhui press the millions of CDs required and ship them out packaged and ready to go? Who pays for the CD? Who pays for the shipping? Who pays for the insertion into the box? How about the collateral? Certainly the manufactures have to add some of their own materials to the box to explain to the customer why they are getting the Green Dam software. That material will have to be reviewed by a few departments, including legal.

    And we haven’t even got to the liability headache due to the security vulnerabilities of the Green Dam software. While most of the software bundled with PCs are crap, they are there to give a perception of added value. And none of them have the infamy of Green Dam. So. If corporate executive’s computer gets compromised because of Green Dam and he suffers some sort of damage, who pays? Beijing? Jinhui? or me, the company that bundled the software with my PC?

    So. As a PC manufacturer wanting to export into China, I suddenly (because my staff weren’t doing their job) have one month to ship millions of CDs from China, come up with my own insertion material to cover my ass a bit, and distribute the collateral for insertion in my boxes. And I’m likely going to have to pay the cost of this extra burden to play in China because it isn’t a even playing field. In China, one can go and buy a PC without an OS for cheap. After July 1st, I certainly wouldn’t expect the shop owner to even mention Green Dam. Yet the foreign PC manufacture will have to bear the cost of including Green Dam. My competitive edge just got duller.

    Is adding Green Dam burdensome? Of course it is. Every bit of material that the manufacturer adds to the box should add value to the whole product. What does Green Dam bring? Security risk. Also it is unpopular. Your phrase “perhaps the installation of Chinese versions of OS and various software in computers to be sold in China should also all be considered a burden?” is just silly.

    You will notice that I haven’t used the word “censorship” to this point. I do agree with you Allen that censorship and the politics thereof are not necessary with this issue in the WTO. There is enough legitimate business concerns regarding Green Dam that could call for it being addressed in the WTO. The politics of censorship makes bringing that issue up extremely counterproductive. It is a gambit that only plays well with a US audience. So, I too, find the US approach maddening.

  11. Allen Says:

    @MutantJedi #10,

    I agree with you that there are details for implementing the Green Dam software that are not necessarily trivial. However, we know many companies – including large ones like Lenovo – have complied. And while I agree that the logistics is not trivial, I don’t think it is as complicated as you make out – especially if you consider that manufacturers already routinely bundle software galore with their machines – and how much obstacles manufacturers have already overcome just in implementing their typical procuring, manufacturing, marketing, and selling process – all across national borders!

    As for liability – standard software licenses typically do not warrant much beyond authenticity of authorship and warranty of basic functions. With respect to basic functions – where software is found to be defective, manufacture warrants only that a replacement with fixes will be supplied – they are typically not liable for damages that could arise from use of defective products. That has been the customary practice in software – and it has been held up as good law all over the world.

    Here is a link to a standard software agreement that I Googled and found (I read through it quickly – it looks about right).

    In summary – I think you raised good points that the Green Dam does make manufacturers’ life difficult. But I don’t think it arises anywhere close to the level of becoming an unfair trade practice…

    P.S. Olympics was not just about sports. It’s also about money! The Beijing Olympics was able to turn a profit of … US $16 million (see story)! Ok … that’s a measly .99% profit – but hey at least there was a profit!

  12. Jed Yoong Says:

    Hi all!
    Green Dam is a really bad idea….
    Just surf through Chinese internet to get an idea how bad the software is…..impeding students from doing legitimate research,etc…..

  13. Charles Liu Says:

    Thanks Allan. I did see this news and thought the trade angle is at least more plausable, as Green Dam does potentially raise commerce issues such as choice of software and cost to bundle.

    But I am suprised to see we are still beating the “censorship” horse, something dead on arrival – The original 5/19 MIIT announcement only asked the PC makers to bundle Green Dam, and end users were under no obligation to install or use the software.

    How can it be censorship when citizens are free to choose not to use it?

    And what’s this “unwillingness to explain the intent and scope”? Any confusion over the term YuZhuan, “preinstall/bundle”, both MIIT and the software maker have clarified starting 6/10, that what is distributed is the setup file, users are not required to install or run Green Dam, and the software does not monitor citizen’s online activity for the state.

    IMHO balance of the news was unfortunately ignored by the media at large, who seem to have opted for sensationalism:

    a) http://www.taizhou.gov.cn/art/2009/6/10/art_76_36883.html
    据新华社电 昨日,工信部有关负责人说
    According to Xinhua wire yesterday [6/09], relevant MIIT leader said

    The ***end user can freely choose to install or not*** quote from MIIT offical is emphasized.

    b) http://www.hngybz.gov.cn/news2.aspx?hyid=82644
    绿坝预装只提供安装文件 用户可决定是否安装 – Green Dam “bundle/preinstall” only provide installation articles, end users decide install or not
    工信部要求预装进电脑的只是一个软件安装文件,所以用户可以选择是否把它装进自己的电脑里让他运行 – MIIT asks “bundle/preinstall” on computer is only the installation, so end users can choose wheither to execute it to install on their own computer

    c) http://news.qq.com/a/20090610/000087.htm
    “工信部:上网过滤软件不监控网民 不强制安装”
    MIIT: Online Filtering Sowftware Will Not Monitor Citizen, Will Not Force Installation (quote from software maker on MIIT mandate)

    These citations are solid, as they have gotton the Guardian and HRW to issue corrections. Unfortunately only tiny correction notice burried at the bottom of their unaltered articles, which does little to affect the damage that’s already done.

  14. Allen Says:

    @Charles #13,

    You wrote:

    IMHO balance of the news was unfortunately ignored by the media at large, who seem to have opted for sensationalism

    Well … I guess even I have been ignorant and mislead here! But I am curious about this: if Green Dam is to be provided in the form of available installation files instead of preinstalled software – why do you think the trade angle is (more) plausible? What’s the big burden? Where is the unfair trade?

  15. Charles Liu Says:

    Allan, I’m just agreeing with MJ @ comment #10. When I read this morning they were complaining about anti-competition and choice of software for PC maker.

    Just saying the trade angle is more plausable than censorship angle. Human rights complaint is total BS – it’s a freaking CD you can just toss.

  16. Wukailong Says:

    @Charles: I’m a bit confused by the discussion about “yuzhuang” which I would translate as “preinstall.” If it means bundle, it would be enough for a company to provide a CD with every shipped computer. But if it means preinstall, computers that do not carry the Windows operating system will not be able to follow the directives in any meaningful way (unless they include the software as an image on their standard installs).

    I apologize if this has already been brought up and discussed… Though it makes quite a difference for computer companies.

  17. MutantJedi Says:

    Having been involved in the software industry for decades and having participated in both sides of bundling deals, tossing another CD in the box does create non-trivial complications. A month is too short of a time period to accommodate the bundle. I don’t even know where the CDs are suppose to be coming from – China? But then, I expect that packaging of the foreign PC boxes to be done domestically… Still… How are the Green Dam CDs being produced/shipped? With Solid Oak seeking legal relief… it does get complicated for the US manufacturer.

    Putting the logistics of the bundle aside… Why didn’t the foreign PC manufacturers know about this months before? Why didn’t they know about it at the start of the vetting process? If I’m an executive of ABC PC Mega Corp sitting in my Beijing or Dalian office, I’d be seriously put out with my staff if the first I learn about the requirement was from the press.

    At the same time, there seems to be an utter lack of evidence that the government effectively communicated with foreign manufactures. If I were the Chinese government and if I had given the foreign manufacturers the heads up, I’d be throwing the timeline issue back onto their laps.

    So. What is the background story of the Green Dam? Exactly how was the software vetted? Who got stroked? My gut tells me that the pleas about controlling porno and protecting kids are smoke covering something else. At first I thought it was about censorship but now I’m leaning towards something a bit more mundane – greed/corruption.

  18. Hemulen Says:

    Well, I don’t know about the merits about this particular case, but if you join an international organization like the WTO you have basically ceded part of your sovereignty and have to accept that countries bring cases against you. As to what motives why a certain government brings a case against you is besides the point.

    As to the question of Chinese censorship it is not self-evident that Western countries should accept a situation where the Chinese government and Chinese citizens should have free access to Western media markets, whereas foreigners are effectively shut out of the Chinese media market and Western companies, like Google, are harassed by the Chinese government. At some point, it might be fair to ask if Western shouldn’t apply similar restrictions to Chinese operators in the West. The EU and the US could block large parts of the PRC-based Internet, for starters, shutting down access to major sites like Baidu, YouKu and so on.

  19. Chalres Liu Says:

    Wukailong @ 16, please see comment 13 cites, as discussion in Steve’s Green Dam blogpost.

    I still have no idea how to say “software bundle” in Chinese…

  20. huaren Says:

    @MutantJedi, #17
    Yes, well said.

    @Hemulen, #18
    You should be fair to China though. When China negotiated with the U.S., the E.U., etc to gain entry into WTO, she made many concessions to existing members of WTO, some at tremendous cost to the local Chinese companies. Also, as part of those negotiations, China is only obligated to open its media market some time in the future.

    Note that this is about likes of CNN and BBC able to sell their content in China. And it’s not the China market is completely inaccessible either: in many hotels in China, Western media is present.

    “At some point, it might be fair to ask if Western shouldn’t apply similar restrictions to Chinese operators in the West. The EU and the US could block large parts of the PRC-based Internet, for starters, shutting down access to major sites like Baidu, YouKu and so on.”

    Here, you are talking about consumers in the West accessing content produced by China based corporations. China doesn’t shut down Google. So, I wouldn’t word it so strongly.

    The U.S. or any other “Western” countries imposing restrictions on products or services from foreign corporations: the list of restrictions is almost endless.

  21. Chalres Liu Says:

    MJ @ 17, “What is the background story of the Green Dam? Exactly how was the software vetted?”

    Here’s a brief history on “green online filtering software” from Beijing City Contracting Portal:


    – Works for “Sunny Green Internet” started in 2006.

    – On 1/14/2008 an urgent RFP for “Green Online Filtering Software” was issued to the public, offering a competitive bid for two green online filtering software products, with cut off date 1/24/2008.

    [recitation of relevant procurement regulation ommitted]

    – On 1/21/2008 invitations for competetive bidding started, inviting companies already qualified to start submitting software system for selection, with 1/25 being the deadline.

    – In October 2008 Green Web Navigation promotional material said over 70 companies had applied to submit produts, and China National Software Testing Center received 28 software systems.

  22. Allen Says:

    @Hemulen #18,

    Regarding Chinese market shutting out Western media companies and the likes …

    Let me say I think I do agree with you (and most people here) that China should have a freer press and less censorship.

    But with that said, I don’t think making this a trade issue makes sense. China has the right to decide what “products” are kosher for her domestic market – so does the U.S. and any other country.

    U.S. and other countries can ban certain Chinese products deemed unsafe – or made through unsavory methods – but so does China have the right to ban foreign products (and services) deemed unsafe – or unsavory.

    We can argue about what is safe and what is unsavory and not safe … but ultimately, China does have a right to regulate her domestic market just like any other country have a right to regulate theirs!

  23. Steve Says:

    I have a question and am sure many out there have an answer. Why is the CCP pushing only Green Dam as the software to be used? Why not just mandate that a pornography blocking software program be bundled with every computer?

    They could even give a list of acceptable companies and not all of them would be from China. Then the manufacturers could test multiple products to see which ones were most reliable and hardest to hack, etc. China could provide a dollar subsidy to the manufacturers and let them decide.

    Because there is no choice besides Green Dam, isn’t that what violates WTO rules?

  24. Hemulen Says:

    @Allen, Huaren

    Fair enough, any country has the right to shut out any product – or idea – that it deems dangerous. But the fact that the EU and US are open societies, while China remains closed in terms of public opinion, benefits China disproportionately. Chinese operators can scrutinize decision-making in parliaments, courts and local governments, and take preemptive measures. They are allowed to propagate their ideas openly and influence public opinion, support lobbies in Brussels and DC, finance pro-PRC student organizations and even organize pro-China demonstrations to intimidate people. But a foreigner in China remains disadvantaged in these arenas and the Chinese government uses the disadvantages to shore up its own corporations and monopolize public opinion. If the Chinese government wants to launch a campaign against a foreign leader like Sarkozy, or against a corporation like Google, there is nothing they can do. They cannot address Chinese public opinion or lobby the Chinese government. China can say no to you, but can you say no to China?

    As China grows more powerful and as the Chinese government does not seem to be willing to undertake political reform, it is inevitable that Western governments will have to address China’s failure to reciprocate benefits that its government, companies and citizens enjoy in the West.

  25. Chalres Liu Says:

    Steve @ 23, it’s probably because the government paid a lot of money for the software already, and political appointee within the buracracy was looking for a way to increase the numbers to look good.

    Comment 21 has a cite on the RFP and bidding process. Two software were eventually chosen. I don’t know what hapened to the “Golden Dam”. I bet whoever came up with the new PC distribution mandate didn’t think about the WTO implication.

  26. huaren Says:


    What you say in your first paragraph – I completely understand that perspective. It is fairly well known many Western politicians envy the fact that the Chinese government have so much less bureaucracy in their way to get things done – because of how their society is “organized” (or “closed”).

    Many here argue this “organization” “fits” China the best at this moment where China is. I tend to agree with this thinking.

    Remember too though, that it wasn’t that long ago, when China announced they wanted their own standards for WiFi, then Intel and others got in to convince them otherwise.

    In that case, many people thought the Chinese government was nuts. But my take was that because WiFi and related technologies were patented by Western corporations, Chinese corporations were at a severe disadvantage. So, if all the trade rules are design to benefit those who happened to have patented more stuff, then developing countries have an extremely severe disadvantage. (An super extreme case – you just went and destroyed Iraq. How are they suppose to compete now?)

    I hope you understand this point.

    So, its a tough balancing act – to be fair to foreign corporations and to be fair to her own people.

    “As China grows more powerful and as the Chinese government does not seem to be willing to undertake political reform, it is inevitable that Western governments will have to address China’s failure to reciprocate benefits that its government, companies and citizens enjoy in the West.”

    I wouldn’t hinge upon “political reform.” It has always been about negotiations and resorting to WTO rules and the like.

    My other thought is if you ask the Chinese, I think they’d tell you there is so much unfair smearing of “Made in China”, violation of WTO rules by “Westerners” – for example, the U.S. subsidy of its steel and agriculture industries, etc., etc..

    On the whole, if you look at the penetration of “Western” corporations in China vs. Chinese corporations in the West, Western corporations are doing by far better.

  27. Steve Says:

    @ huaren #26: In what way do you feel “Made in China” is being unfairly smeared by non-Chinese countries?

  28. Chalres Liu Says:

    While not making excuse for Green Dam, buffer overrun is one of the oldest software bug, and today programmers still make this mistake. IE/Mozilla/Outlook, something we’ve all used, have had this vulnerablity at one point or another:


    If couple of undergrads can use a teaching tool to find this bug, I wonder why China’ national software testing center didn’t catch it during their selection process?

  29. huaren Says:

    @Steve, #27

    Something that came to mind was Matel’s bad design in many of their toys – bad placement for batteries. This was a huge scandal in the U.S. and the U.S. media portrayed this was sloppy manufacturing on Chinese company’s part – however, a Canadian university’s finding was they were mostly due to design. Battery operated toys – you want them to conceal the battery so children do not get to them.

    So, “Made in China” was trashed for that.

    This wasn’t talked about in FM??

  30. Steve Says:

    @ huaren #29: It might have been discussed when I was absent. Thanks for the clarification.

  31. raventhorn4000 Says:


    I do not think you accurately characterized the situation with Green Dam.

    Mandating bundling of Green Dam does not remove choice. Consumers can install other filtering softwares as alternatives. “Having a default choice” does not remove choice.

    In that respect, there is little difference between Microsoft bundling their Iexplorer with Windows OS, and the bundling of PC with Green Dam.

    *While some have charged the Microsoft bundling as “monopolistic practice”, that was only because Microsoft made it virtually impossible for users to uninstall Iexplorer from Windows.

    Here, there is no impediment for users to uninstall Green Dam, even if it keeps some “log files”.

    WTO rules do not rule against such “non-exclusive bundling practices”.

  32. Steve Says:

    @ R4K: You completely missed the point. I’m not looking at this as a legal issue but a practical one. It has nothing to do with filtering, it has to do with compatibility. If a computer manufacturer can install a competitive program that works better in his system, doesn’t crash, isn’t buggy and doesn’t have as many security holes (I’m with Charles in that all software has some security flaws), why not allow them to do so? Just give the manufacturers a choice so they can find the best fit for their systems.

    If I order a computer from Dell, I click through a series of choices on both hardware and software to make my purchase. It’s not very difficult. Why is there a need for a “default choice” in the first place? As long as having a adult content filtering software is mandatory, why pick one over another?

    I don’t use Internet Explorer, it’s too buggy and easy to compromise. I use Firefox. But there are a lot of people out there that have no idea how to use another browser. I’m with the EU on that one.

    And even less can figure out BitTorrent. 😉

  33. S.K. Cheung Says:

    Thanks for highlighting MJ’s excellent post #17.
    Taking MJ’s theme, and that of Hemulen #18, I wonder (I’m just asking here) if Green Dam’s “filtering” might not only filter, but in fact manipulate search results, such that certain vendors may be helped and others hurt by the resultant manipulation of web traffic. In that way not much different than google, which is susceptible to click-fraud.

    To Steve:
    I have never in my life heard of BitTorrent, and have never ever visited Pirate Bay…honest 🙂

  34. Wukailong Says:

    @Charles (#19): I think software bundle is “软件包” (the term does appear in one of the articles you quoted in #13). My problem is mostly that everything we can discuss here are these news reports, which are anything but clear. If it’s just for the public, I don’t mind the lack of clarity if it can be explained later, but from what I’ve gleaned, the information to computer manufacturers have been scarce and too late.

    For the end user this shouldn’t matter too much now that it’s pretty much clear the thing is not installed at the system when it arrives, but the headache is still going on for the companies. MutantJedi have done a good job summing that up in #17.

    Also, as a detail, I’m not even running Windows… Thanks to the government in advance for giving me a piece of software I can’t use. In these days of advocating “national products” (国货), China remains more of a Windows world than any other place I’ve been in. 🙂

  35. Wukailong Says:

    @Charles Liu (#28): My guess is that 1) the relevant authorities do not have experience choosing software and/or doing appropriate QA work, and 2) the timeframe has been too short and communication with computer manufacturers limited.

    I don’t think this is just a technical issue, though. Back in 2007, a friend of mine was working in a media company that did video streaming, like Youtube or Tudou. The leader of the company knew beforehand of an upcoming law that required all countries doing streaming video to be state-owned, and was able to do the necessary preparations before the law was promulgated (which included creating a sort of joint venture with a state-owned firm). Other big companies weren’t as well prepared for the law, because they didn’t have the same contacts.

  36. Steve Says:

    @ SKC #33: Pirate Bay is WKL’s company so you’ll have to ask him about it. I believe he’s been busy moving all his servers to Holland, racking up those frequent flier miles. 😉

    I opened up a Ouija board and it magically divined these random words: isoHunt, Mininova, TorrentBox, Demonoid, OneSwarm. I am curious as to their significance. I’d better see a psychic…

  37. Wukailong Says:

    @Steve: We’re moving our operations and servers to Russia these days for maximum safety. 🙂

  38. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Government bidding process isn’t always rational, doesn’t give US any rational grounds to complain about it.

    Besides, Green Dam was the product of 2 separate Chinese computer companies, working in joint venture project. Who is to say whether that choice of those 2 companies is wrong at the time or after?

    *Giving the choice the computer company to choose which filter software is equally viable. But I wouldn’t say it’s better.

    Afterall, there are only a few big computer makers that sell to China. Instead of 1 default choice, you end up with a dozen default choices.

    In terms of a consumer, he really doesn’t get much choice other than a bunch of default choices in bundling. If the consumer doesn’t know how to install an alternative from 1 default choice, then he’s not going to know much about the dozen default choices.

    Just giving the power to the industry, (the free market theory), doesn’t really make much sense to a unified regulatory field like internet filter.

    * In generally, I think there is too much overblown talk about Green Dam.

    Chinese internet regulatory scheme is infancy, China needs to use prototypes like Green Dam to work out the problems, and has not put Green Dam in as a monopoly on the industry.

    The alternative is to pass ineffective regulations like US, and end up not having any filtering at all. Then what’s the point of even doing it?

    On Windows Iexplorer, it really doesn’t matter that EU slaps on a $2 million a year fine on Microsoft over Monopoly does it?

    In the end, it comes down to “What are you going to do? Ban Microsoft from EU?”

    Similarly, What’s Dell/HP going to do? Leave China??

    One might as well argue that Dell/HP were helping Microsoft to bundling IExplorer.

  39. S.K. Cheung Says:

    To Steve and WKL:
    I did not know that. Perhaps for my next vacation, I shall visit this Bay, and perhaps commission a monument in WKL’s honour.

    Steve, you and I must have identical Ouija boards. What are the odds of that!?!

  40. raventhorn4000 Says:

    US complaint on Green Dam in WTO alleges, filtering internet content against obscene material is OK, but China’s effort in filter is disproportionally broad in scope.

    I think this allegation is not based upon any WTO rules, and vague in its claim for damages.

    US, as a WTO member, cannot generally allege possible damages to trade due to Green Dam, when such economic damages are entirely speculative in nature.

    There is no specific allegation of which conduct in bundling of Green Dam in PC would cause any restraint on trade that would violate WTO rules and treaty obligations.

    Merely “disproportionally broad in scope” is also merely local government opinion. One can also allege that US filtering is “disproportionally narrow in scope”, and that would mean nothing to WTO rules.

  41. Steve Says:

    Update: Per today’s article in Xinhua, China will delay the mandatory installation of the controversial “Green Dam-Youth Escort” filtering software on new computers, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said here Tuesday.

    The pre-installation was delayed as some computer producers said such massive installation demanded extra time, said the ministry.

    All computers produced or sold in China were scheduled to be installed with such software after July 1, according to MIIT’s previous announcement.

    The ministry would continue to provide a free download of the software and equip school and Internet bar computers with it after July 1, said a spokesman with MIIT.

    The ministry would also keep on soliciting opinions to perfect the pre-installation plan, he said.

    The software is designed to block violence and pornographic contents on the Internet to protect minors. It could also help parents control how much time their children spent online.

  42. Allen Says:

    Who has been looking to start a software co.? We may still have time to put something quick together and pitch to the Chinese gov’t about our version of the Green Dam! 😉

  43. raventhorn4000 Says:


    Getting a government contract in China of that scale is notoriously difficult. (you must be kidding.)

    If you want the Chinese government to contract for the license and service of such a software, you need to get the recommendation of at least couple of the top level members of the Chinese Academy of Science.

    Otherwise, no one will even talk to you.

    Even Bill Gates had to wine and dine those guys.

    (Of course, when applied evenly, it’s not really corruption, it’s just procedure.) 🙂

  44. Steve Says:

    @ Allen #42: I put together the financing and software package today. I’ve already picked out a name: Green Dyson’s Sphere. Nuthin’ can get through this baby unless we allow it!

    We have a presentation in front of the Chinese Academy of Science on Friday at 3 PM. Wear that snazzy gray Loro Piana suit of yours with the Canali tie; looks really professional on you. I’ve already made reservations for a banquet after the meeting at that fancy abalone place on Beijing’s east side you like so much.

    I’ve also set both of us up for liver transplants on Saturday. 😛

  45. Allen Says:

    @Steve #44,

    Good work setting things up. I’ll be there.

    Also – don’t leak to the gov’t yet the fact that we have a backdoor key to the software. We’ll do that only after we have at least 30% market penetration – at which point we’ll try to blackmail the gov’t by threatening to release the “key” (rendering the software useless) unless they pay us additional “maintenance fees.” If we fail with the blackmail – we will recover our fees by selling code to the “key” to kids who desperately want to access porn that their parents have not allowed them…

  46. raventhorn4000 Says:

    Too late guys,

    I already have those old dudes in the Academy of Science in my pocket, so to speak. Just a little ahead of you.

    My “Green Democracy Wall” will only allow information written with ink and paper, and must contain “Democracy” and “Democratic Communist Party” in every sentence.

    It’s all this new make over campaign to allow more “democracy” in China.

    Bill Gates is on board with this one. His new Microsoft Windows “Green Curtains” will bundle “Green Democracy Wall”, and China will give him a monopoly on OS in China.

  47. Charles Liu Says:

    Steve @ 41, “mandatory installation”

    I need to correct you on this. In our exchange it has been clear there was never a mandate to install the software or forcing end users to run Green Dam.

    PC makers were asked to bundle the installation on hard drive or CD, and end users are free to use it or not. Here’s an example from Sony where Green Dam install is bundled, but Rebecca MacKinnon mis-translated to insinuate Green Dam is installed on the PC.

  48. Ted Says:

    Charles: The headline for the xinhua piece states mandatory installation… not sure why you are still arguing about this. Steve was quoting directly from the article, follow the link and read for yourself.


  49. Steve Says:

    Hi Charles~ as Ted said, don’t correct me, correct Xinhua. I just posted the article directly.

  50. Charles Liu Says:

    Ted and Steve, I sent a letter to Xinhua editor on this already. There may have been confusion over “pre-install” and “bundle”, but both the MIIT and the software maker have clarified what is installed is the setup files only.

    There was never a mandate to force installation of this software itself. According to the original 5/19 MIIT announement, the software is to bundle on hard drive or CD-ROM. This point has been clarified as early as 6/10, that what is distributed is the setup file, and users are not required to install or run Green Dam

    (IMHO unfortunately ignored by the media at large, who seem to have opted for sensationalism):

    a) http://www.taizhou.gov.cn/art/2009/6/10/art_76_36883.html
    据新华社电 昨日,工信部有关负责人说
    According to Xinhua wire yesterday [6/09], relevant MIIT leader said

    The ***end user can freely choose to install or not*** quote from MIIT offical is emphasized.

    b) http://www.hngybz.gov.cn/news2.aspx?hyid=82644
    绿坝预装只提供安装文件 用户可决定是否安装 – Green Dam “bundle/preinstall” only provide installation articles, end users decide install or not
    工信部要求预装进电脑的只是一个软件安装文件,所以用户可以选择是否把它装进自己的电脑里让他运行 – MIIT asks “bundle/preinstall” on computer is only the installation, so end users can choose wheither to execute it to install on their own computer

    c) http://news.qq.com/a/20090610/000087.htm
    “工信部:上网过滤软件不监控网民 不强制安装”
    MIIT: Online Filtering Sowftware Will Not Monitor Citizen, Will Not Force Installation (quote from software maker on MIIT mandate)

  51. Steve Says:

    @ Charles: I wasn’t doubting you, all I was doing on that post was pasting an update word for word since it applied to the topic. Thanks for the clarification.

  52. Ted Says:

    @ Charles: Looks like inaccuracies abound on all sides. There are slants on both sides of China/America reporting and mistranslations don’t help. I’ll look forward to Xinhua’s retraction/reprint.

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