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20 Feb 2006

Steve Maich, Macleans [Canada]

Yes, Master - How Western companies are selling their souls for a piece of the massive Chinese market

A former executive with Occidental Chemical Corp. and ex-president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, [John] Kamm has spent the past 16 years working for human rights reform in China... [L]ately, he has watched in disbelief as some of the world's biggest companies meekly complied with China's most audacious crackdown in years... [refers to role in censorship by China Govt. of Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Nortel Networks, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft]… None of [the companies’ defenses of their actions hold] water with Kamm... "What did we learn at Nuremberg? If a law violates international human rights law, then you're obligated not to follow it..."... If businessmen were to show as much courage in the face of Communist leaders as they do in the boardroom, China would be a far more liberated place than it is today. "Business people are supposed to be able to do this kind of thing, they should be natural at it," Kamm says. "You should be able to sell the guy on something he may not want to hear initially..." [also refers to Levi Strauss, Nike, Reebok (part of adidas-Salomon), Gap and labour standards; role of SNC-Lavalin, Acres International, Hydro-Québec, Dominion Bridge in Three Gorges Dam; General Motors in South Africa; Talisman Energy in Sudan]