Yahoo lied.

For those of you who still think Yahoo’s cooperation with the police in the Shi Tao “incident” was innocent and necessary, read this killer post (needless to say, most of the links are blocked here in the motherland).

It appears Yahoo has consistently lied about its role in Shi Tao’s persecution right from the beginning – both its Beijing and Hong Kong offices They knew from the start this was an investigation into someone accused of “revealing state secrets.” Yahoo can’t claim any more that they had no inkling of why the security police wanted this information (this claim allowed them to argue that it could have been a murder investigation, child pornography or similar heinous crime, and thus they had to cooperate).

Read it all, plus the comments, to see on-the-record samples of Yahoo’s prevarications. The fact that they seem to have known from day one that this was about “revealing state secrets” – not murder or a kidnapping or terrorism – seems to make irrelevant earlier arguments that Yahoo had little choice in the matter and did not do anything wrong because they had no idea what kind of crime the security police were investigating.

About this blog: Yes, it seems to be dying a slow death, and it will continue looking that way for months to come. I have no choice – I can’t put up ten posts a day like I used to; even one a week is difficult. I’ll do my best.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 31 Comments

Dont worry about the blog, man. Concentrate on what’s really important.

Thanks for the info on Yahoo.

Michael

July 30, 2007 @ 10:32 am | Comment

Glad you took the time to nail this one.

July 30, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

Let Yahoo’s founders and management die 1000 deaths.

July 30, 2007 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

I’m still not convinced that they had any choice in the matter. Were they not presented with a legal demand for information? Was there any legal way for them to refuse? Not saying Yahoo’s innocent, just not convinced they had any legal option other than to comply with the demand for information.

July 30, 2007 @ 1:27 pm | Comment

Whether they did or didn’t, as Rebecca says in her post, is an open question. What isn’t a question anymore is whether they lied about it. I like Rebeca’s summary:

What Yahoo! China’s employees in Beijing might have done differently without getting themselves in trouble is an open question.

Still, the fact is that Callahan did not tell the truth to Congress. Was he was deliberately lying? Or are Yahoo!’s internal communications and record keeping just so bad that he didn’t have full information from the Beijing office?

That makes me wonder: what else did the Beijing office do – or have knowledge of in relation to the case of Shi Tao and others who are now in jail – which Yahoo! execs are keeping mum about… if they even have any idea themselves?

In the past, I tried to give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt on this story, and I never called for a boycott (and still don’t). They no longer have the benefit of the doubt.

July 30, 2007 @ 1:34 pm | Comment

Wheren’t the servers of Yahoo in HK and thus fall under HK jurisdication? And hasn’t HK a different and independent legal system than the mainland.
Maybe I am wrong about this but shouldn’t the way be Peking investigators ask HK court to ask Yahoo to reveal the information, and not Peking sking Yahoo directly?

That’s my five cent to the question if Yahoo had any option other than handing over the information.

Anybody with more information about this here?

July 30, 2007 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

I think the moral implications hinted by these news is that an internet company rolled over on someone not because the PSB showed up with a warrant but in hopes of securing greater market access.

July 30, 2007 @ 2:22 pm | Comment

There’s a parallel in a story I heard last week about a Chinese social networking site that will remain nameless. The site has a number of very active discussion communities, and a couple of users began posting things that they shouldn’t have, which attracted the attention of the authorities, who promptly presented the guy running the site with a demand for IP information and access times.

Rather than comply – or refuse outright – he simply deleted the threads in question without comment. Now his users are pissed at him – because he hasn’t given a reason for deleting the threads, presumably because the request came with a gag order – and the police are pissed at him because he didn’t comply. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

July 30, 2007 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

Word will get out as to why he deleted those threads, or at least I hope so. That was a noble thing to do.

July 30, 2007 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

Yikes – the length of this comment and the Australian IP address should have given this away. Sorry for taking so long to edit this

Richard

July 30, 2007 @ 6:55 pm | Comment

Simon, there are negative stories and sometimes there are positive stories.. This information about Yahoo’s BS falls into the negative category because the imprisonment of an innocent man like Shi Tao for ten years is an outrage. I wish all the news out of Iraq were positive and fluffy, too.

Meanwhile, if you are new here there’s a huge amount of positive material about the Chinese people, and a huge amount of negative and not-always-so-negative stuff about the sins of their government, such as ruining the life of Shi Tao and his loved ones. This ratio applies equally to my own country as well. I don’t condemn the American people, but I sure as hell condemn their (and my) president.

July 30, 2007 @ 7:46 pm | Comment

If Yahoo “had no choice” they would have had no reason to lie – just blame the authorities. The fact they lied suggests they either:

a) could have not co-operated and are now trying to cover-up that fact

b) were so cowardly that they wouldn’t even admit to helping the Chinese authorities with full knowledge of what was going on

Either way they are real scum-bags and should be treated as such.

July 30, 2007 @ 9:14 pm | Comment

In the past, I tried to give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt on this story, and I never called for a boycott (and still don’t). They no longer have the benefit of the doubt.
Posted by: richard at July 30, 2007 01:34 PM

And I personally set the wayback machine in action and dredged up the quote from a certain influential blogger stating unequivocally that the state secrets rationale would NOT be in the search warrant. He stated quite clearly there was no way Yahoo could know that it was helping a state secrets trial, so everyone should give Yahoo the benefit of the doubt.

July 30, 2007 @ 9:27 pm | Comment

“….I read it out as best as I could, altering my intonation in a silly attempt to mimic an American accent, gliding off short vowels, stretching them like a Texan.”

Simon, are you poking fun at my accent?

July 30, 2007 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

Yes, most foreign businessmen wanting to

profit off of Chinese cheap labor or even free

labor are also to blame for putting profits

infront of morality. Those businessmen are

little better than the PRC leaders who are

feeding off the misery of the Chinese

peasants.

Therefore To everyone who is finanically capable…

BOYCOTT MADE IN CHINA PRODUCTS
Everytime you buy a made in China good,
you encourage the exploitation of the Chinese peasants.
This would probably sound difficult to achieve because so many basic equipments such as computer chips are manufactured and processed in China, but if everyone starts cooperating by buying fewer made in China cheap goods would serve the better purpose in the long run.
If PRC leaders find that Chinese cheap labor is not as much needed, the PRC leaders would be less likely to exploit the Chinese peasants for labor.

July 31, 2007 @ 12:59 am | Comment

Great idea Anonymous, then Chinese peasants will end up with no job and no income……

July 31, 2007 @ 1:54 am | Comment

fatbrick:

They work long hours only in the hope of getting paid as it is.

July 31, 2007 @ 5:47 am | Comment

Some people would argue that the Chinese peasants will end up with no job and no income…
But the majority of the Chinese peasants are

not earning an income from the difficult and

dangerous work they are doing anyways.

Very often the poor peasants are actually

forced to do labor without pay. Their

managers hire gang members to beat the

peasants in case the peasants ask for pay.

For further reference please refer to the

brick kiln story.

This is exactly the reason that makes Chinese
labor market extremely attractive to foreign
businessmen.

Also heavily depending on Chinese labor
market in the long run would harm our
homeland security especiallly if even basic
military equipments are starting to be
made in China. China is already financing

its military five times the amount U.S, Britain,

and Russia are financing their militaries. It is
obvious what Chinese leaders want now,

little Taiwan has grown too small to satisty,

China’s growing appetite…

To protect our homeland security, to increase
our military strength, I sincerely ask everyone
to boycott Chinese goods. The current
situation is far more serious than providing
jobs for the Chinese labor market. This is
a situation that requires our cooperation to
stop strengthing China’s growing power

before it can do serious damage…

July 31, 2007 @ 5:49 am | Comment

Simon, you’re hilarious!

Anonymous, you’re a nut case – and potentialy dangerous, I think.

July 31, 2007 @ 6:00 am | Comment

Hence why he remains anonymous. Anyhow, as for Yahoo, a boycott would mean… turning to Google? The company that set up a censored website for China specifically? Or turning to a domestic Chinese web portal? Lol. Of course, we can’t forget the fact that most of our web traffic is carried on Cisco equipment, so no matter who you boycott, you’re indirectly supporting the great firewall that way…

July 31, 2007 @ 8:08 am | Comment

t_co, who said anything about boycotting yahoo?

July 31, 2007 @ 9:44 am | Comment

“Simon, you’re hilarious!”

He was also given another brown envelope after he wrote that.

July 31, 2007 @ 1:33 pm | Comment

I am boycotting Yahoo. MSN paid me to, and Google told me to. I don’t argue with Google. They have too much power.

July 31, 2007 @ 2:20 pm | Comment

This and all other comments from “Obvious” have been deleted for incredibly obscene language.

Site Keeper

July 31, 2007 @ 8:02 pm | Comment

MAJ wrote:

“Thanks for exposing me Obvious – party-pooper!”

But I thought MAJ already had a habit of “exposing” himself.

That said, on the one hand I didn’t even read “Simon’s”/MAJ’s comment because it was dreadfully dull and it wasn’t “provocative” at all. On the other hand I’m actually going to offer MAJ a tip of the hat for his honest self-deprecation here, as it’s more than could be expected of many other totally humourless commenters here in recent times.

And so, now here’s a question for our host, Richard, who has banned MAJ for good reasons:
Does it make any practical sense to continue banning a badly behaved guest/party-crasher even at 5 in the morning when the party is basically over and most of the other guests have departed? I’m not suggesting yes or no; I’m just asking the question…

…in other words, if MAJ continues to hang around here, he won’t have much of an audience or many interlocutors left. So what harm can he really do at this point? If he continues to comment here he’ll mostly be talking to himself, as always. Although I must admit, that his above comment made this blog’s discussions more interesting than they have been for a long time – and that’s a very grim comparison to make.

In sum:

1. When MAJ turns out to be one of the more interesting commenters here, it’s time to re-think what this blog is for and where it’s going, and

2. Candidly, I honestly think MAJ should be re-admitted here, on probation.

And Richard and RAJ can see my IP address and see that it is not the same as MAJ’s, nor is my writing style. This is really me, Ivan, sincerely advocating the re-admission of MAJ to this forum, on probation. (Richard can email me to confirm that I personally wrote this comment.)

July 31, 2007 @ 8:21 pm | Comment

Ivan, I’ll let the comments on this thread stand (that it’s gone this far without deletions speaks to the fact that I’m no longer able to take care of this site). But I won’t consider MAJ for probation and will delete anything else he adds. I want no part of him here, ever. Remember our old discussion about demons? That was a very moving argument and I believe it. I want to keep this site demon-free.

July 31, 2007 @ 8:54 pm | Comment

Okay, I’ve changed my mind. After going through the comments and matching IP addresses, it was instantly clear that “Obvious” and MAJ are both MAJ. This is a common technique MAJ uses, placing comments saying obsene things about himself, then entering, taking umbrage and starting a fight with himself.

Really guys, I’m very busy nowadays, I have no time for shit like this. All posts from both Madges are gone.

July 31, 2007 @ 9:02 pm | Comment

Richard,

Yeah, I see your point. I was just offering some food for thought. But this is your sandbox and you’re well within your rights (and then some) to maintain a total ban on MAJ.

And thank you for that appreciative remark about what I said to you (privately) about the nature of demons and evil.

Hm. But now, that leads to another provocative thought – provocative in a good way. Richard, if you agree with my belief in the reality of spiritual evil, then it means you are a true believer in SOME kind of God (some kind of categorical moral goodness which transcends our mortal lives as mere material animals) after all!

Good on ya, mate! But then, Richard, you never would have started this blog – and devoted so much of your heart and soul to it without any temporal rewards – unless you really believed in some Higher Good beyond temporal opportunism.

As for MAJ – who will certainly read this – I have a message for him: MAJ, I think you are beginning to take the first steps toward conversion to Christianity. You have demonstrated the beginning of a turn toward conscience and love of truth and honesty. Keep it up, because no mortal man is ever a total demon, and UNLIKE the angels whose intelligences are totally supernatural and whose existence transcends temporality and materiality, UNLIKE them, we Humans always have the choice within time and space, to choose to convert from love of our own lies toward love of Truth.

MAJ, I perceive a potential Christian saint in you, and that’s no bullshit. But then again, Hitler was a potential saint too, up until the moment when he chose to destroy himself (committing suicide) because he loved an untruthful image of himself more than he loved Truth, aka God.

Now that I have left China, I have begun to attend an authentic Christian church again, and next Sunday I will say a prayer for MAJ, as I cross myself with Holy Water which is UNTAINTED by the anti-christian CCP. And that’s no bullshit.

July 31, 2007 @ 9:58 pm | Comment

Ivan, we’ll discuss it after August 13 – til them I am an indentured servant.

I won’t say I am a true believer in any kind of God, only that I do have a spiritual side and am open to any possibility. I also have a strong dislike of most organized religion, knowing all the death and misery they tend to leave in their wake…

Well, we seem to have veered a bit off-topic.

August 1, 2007 @ 10:46 am | Comment

Lawmaker Wants Yahoo Probe

Congressional investigators plan to look into whether Yahoo officials misrepresented the Internet company’s role in the arrest of a Chinese journalist sentenced to a decade in jail.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos ordered the investigation after a human rights group released a document that it said raised questions about what Yahoo knew when it shared information with authorities about Shi Tao. Beijing officials had sought Shi for sending an e-mail about Chinese media restrictions.

“For a firm engaged in the information industry, Yahoo sure has a lot of secrecy to answer for,” said Lantos, D-Calif. “We expect to learn the truth and to hold the company to account.”

More lipservice from Washington.

August 4, 2007 @ 8:50 am | Comment

How caN you consider the CCP’s persecutory, paranoid persecutions of thinkers legal?

The CCP is just a mafia, it does not respect the law and the constitution. Have you ever tried to leard about the “legal system” in China inder the stupid CCP? It is purely a joke, a facade and plain criminal, worse than criminal cause it mascarades as a justice system. HAH, justice! , right…

So if the CCP served me some papers that said I had to follow the “law” of helping the “government” engage in silencing truthfulness, I would say, HA, who the heck are you????? You think you’re powerful and tough? BULLY!! BULLY BULLY BULLY! You think you can coerce me to do something terrible so that I can apease the likes of you scum? I’ll do whatever I can to do the opposite of apeasing the likes of you, I will live in total subversion of all tyou stand for and if that is achienved I will be a saint of all saints and the likes of you will not be able to live and breed here anymore!!!!!

If China’s party was poor would Yahoo have done such a dastardly thing? I don’t think so, such so called legal documents are a facade for bribery!!!!!

As well, i dont see why we pinpoint only certain few companies, if it was publicized, we;d hear the same disgusting tale about thousands of companies and millions of individulas! Yuck

Anyway, that’s just to say, it’s about money, not so called lagality since the CCP is a mafia.

And for those who think I’m an exagerating conspiracy theorist, you wish, I understand, I wish too, but, face up.

August 6, 2007 @ 5:36 am | Comment

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