Loading...

US Companies Face Dilemma When Business Helps Dictators

November 23, 2021 by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON — Foreign policy experts described an enormous challenge Monday for U.S. corporations wanting to improve their international business while facing political pressure from authoritarian governments.

Some cave to the pressure to increase their revenue while others resist, putting them at risk of losing business in the foreign countries.

Similar issues were discussed last week during a videoconference summit between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Biden complained about China’s “unfair trade and economic policies” hurting American workers but also raised concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Hong Kong.

The dilemma mentioned during the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe discussion Monday addresses when a healthy bottom line means the corporations are fueling repression and human rights violations in foreign countries.

In recent days, executives from American corporations have reported that China has been using its influence over their businesses by asking them to lobby against congressional bills to enhance U.S. international competitiveness. Otherwise, the corporations risk losing their Chinese market share.

Paul Massaro, senior policy advisor to the commission, explained the question as, “How do we stiffen the spines of corporations?”

He said some corporations were caught in an irony with their international business.

They inadvertently break international law by helping to fund regimes with bad human rights records but at the same time, “The private sector relies on the rule of law,” Massaro said.

He and other policy advisors suggested requirements for greater transparency by the corporations. They could continue their international business but they would be required to report their interactions and discussions with the foreign governments.

“Don’t hide it in a black box,” said Vladimir Milov, a Russian opposition politician and economist.

He mentioned the example of Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist. Navalny gained international notoriety by organizing anti-government demonstrations and running for office to advocate reforms against corruption and President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny has earned more than 6 million YouTube subscribers and more than 2 million Twitter followers. He uses social media to publish information about corruption in Russia.

The Russian government ordered social media and internet news companies to take down content about Navalny.

Technology company Apple Inc. removed references to Navalny from its online news services. Internet service provider Google LLC refused.

So far, the Russian government has not shut down Google, partly because its YouTube app is very popular with Russians, Milov said. Shutting down YouTube would create a political backlash for Putin.

“They have a lot of leverage,” Milov said about Google.

The problem is that choices of whether to resist or comply are not set by any U.S. government standard, he said.

“All of this is left to the unilateral will of these big corporations,” Milov said.

Perhaps a better option would be for the U.S. government to enact rules that remove the discretion of corporations about how to respond to political pressure from repressive regimes, he said.

Much of the discussion focused on China’s interplay between business and government.

In China, “There’s a very deep appreciation for the effect that money and companies have on political discourse,” said Matt Schrader, an advisor on China for the International Republican Institute public policy foundation.

In recent years, the Chinese government has required corporations to share data about their business enterprises. It also has threatened to shut down foreign businesses that defy its rules on censorship.

He said Hollywood movies have been banned if they discredit the Chinese government. For some movies, China is the theaters’ first or second biggest market.

In response to a question from The Well News, Schrader said that data-sharing requirements are likely to help in China’s military buildup.

“It’s inevitable that it will contribute to military advancements,” Schrader said.

China’s intertwined business and government makes it nearly impossible “to separate China’s embrace of technology from its embrace of military power,” he said.

Last week, a commission of security and economic experts organized by Congress recommended that the United States more aggressively withdraw commercial ties with China, warning of growing national security risks.

The report from the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission suggested restrictions on U.S. investment in China.

Karen Sutter, an Asian trade and finance specialist for the Congressional Research Service public policy foundation, said that without changes, the outlook is poor for China to stop turning over information from foreign businesses to its military.

“We have some [U.S.] companies doubling down and increasing their presence in China, particularly in technology and in research,” she said.

Tom can be reached at tom@thewellnews.com

Business

Stores Kick Off Black Friday But Pandemic Woes Linger

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers are expected to usher in the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season Friday with... Read More

NEW YORK (AP) — Retailers are expected to usher in the unofficial start to the holiday shopping season Friday with bigger crowds than last year in a closer step toward normalcy. But the fallout from the pandemic continues to weigh on businesses and shoppers' minds. Buoyed... Read More

November 24, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Ohio Jury Faults Pharmacies for Spurring Opioid Epidemic

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A landmark jury verdict Tuesday could make major pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart liable for... Read More

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A landmark jury verdict Tuesday could make major pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart liable for encouraging the opioid epidemic that kills thousands of Americans each year.  The verdict in federal court in Ohio is the first to uphold a legal theory... Read More

November 24, 2021
by Dan McCue
Problem Solvers, Senators Renew Call for Fully Funding CHIPS Act

WASHINGTON — Before leaving town for Thanksgiving, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined members of the Problem... Read More

WASHINGTON — Before leaving town for Thanksgiving, Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, joined members of the Problem Solvers Caucus to call for fully funding the CHIPS for America Act, an initiative intended to increase semiconductor production in the United States. Their message, simply... Read More

November 24, 2021
by Dan McCue
Study Finds Significant Bipartisan Support for Corporate Social Responsibility

WASHINGTON — A new, groundbreaking study suggests not only is there strong bipartisan support for corporate efforts to address environmental,... Read More

WASHINGTON — A new, groundbreaking study suggests not only is there strong bipartisan support for corporate efforts to address environmental, social and governance challenges, but that the bipartisan appeal of these initiatives dramatically increases among Americans under the age of 45. The study, “Unlocking the Bipartisan... Read More

November 23, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
US Companies Face Dilemma When Business Helps Dictators

WASHINGTON — Foreign policy experts described an enormous challenge Monday for U.S. corporations wanting to improve their international business while... Read More

WASHINGTON — Foreign policy experts described an enormous challenge Monday for U.S. corporations wanting to improve their international business while facing political pressure from authoritarian governments. Some cave to the pressure to increase their revenue while others resist, putting them at risk of losing business in... Read More

Biden to Keep Powell as Fed Chair, Brainard Gets Vice Chair

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that he's nominating Jerome Powell for a second four-year term as Federal... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden announced Monday that he's nominating Jerome Powell for a second four-year term as Federal Reserve chair, endorsing Powell's stewardship of the economy through a brutal pandemic recession in which the Fed's ultra-low rate policies helped bolster confidence and revitalize the... Read More

News From The Well
Exit mobile version