I don't always agree with California Congressman Tom Lantos, but when a Holocaust survivor lectures you on human rights, you might want to pay attention.
Kowtow, from the Chinese term kòu tóu (Cantonese: kau tàuh) (Mandarin: kē tóu) (叩頭), is the act of deep respect shown by kneeling and bowing so low as to touch the head to the ground. While the phrase kè tóu (磕頭) is often used in lieu of the former in modern Chinese, the meaning is somewhat altered: kòu originally meant "knock with reverence", whereas kè has the general meaning of "touch upon (a surface)".In imperial Chinese protocol, the kowtow was performed before the emperor...
This week, Congress called the "Gang of Four" (Microsoft, Cisco, Yahoo and Google) to hearings to explain just why it is they've been supporting the Chinese Communist government's technological efforts to suppress dissent and continue to oppress their population.
Here's a particularly nice exchange between Lantos and the Yahoo spokesdroid. (In 2004, Yahoo turned over key evidence--implicating Chinese journalist Shi Tao in acts of actual free thought, expressed in e-mails to friends abroad-- to the Chinese secret police; he's now in prison.)
Lantos, to Yahoo: Are you ashamed?The whole thing is well worth reading.
Yahoo: We are very distressed about the consequences of having to comply with Chinese law...We are certainly troubled by that and we look forward to working with our peers.
Lantos: Do you think that individuals or families have been negatively impacted by some of the activities we have been told, like being in prison for 10 years? Have any of the companies reached out to these families and asked if you could be of any help to them?
Yahoo: We have expressed our condemnation of the prosecution of this person, expressed our views to the Chinese government...We have approached the Chinese government on these issues.
Lantos: Have you reached out to the family? I can ask it 10 more times if you refuse to answer it. You are under oath.
Yahoo: We have not reached out to the families.
And I'd like to send Lantos a case of good Scotch and a dozen roses.
Congressman quizzes Net companies on shame | CNET News.com
Related: Learning to Live with Big Brother (US News and World Report)