REPRESSIONS R US

Trade shows can be fun. There are shows for boats, gardening, beer, and just about every other line of products, allowing attendees to look and learn, shop and sample. Imagine the excitement then, when a major trade show recently opened in China, showing off a cornucopia of consumer goods to eager buyers.
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
Jim Hightower's Radio Lowdown
REPRESSIONS R US
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Trade shows can be fun. There are shows for boats, gardening, beer, and just about every other line of products, allowing attendees to look and learn, shop and sample. Imagine the excitement then, when a major trade show recently opened in China, showing off a cornucopia of consumer goods to eager buyers.

Only, these were not your ordinary shoppers. They were Chinese police officials, noted for their authoritarian crack-downs on people striving for democratic freedoms there – and this trade show presented a vast array of the latest tools of repression made by manufactures from the U.S. and elsewhere.

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China has become the world’s fastest-growing market for security hardware and software, and such global giants as Motorola and DuPont had traveled to the China International Exhibition on Police Equipment, eager to hawk their goods to the authorities. One British maker of boots for police agents set the tone for the three-day sale-a-thon by having its staff wear black T-shirts emblazoned with the marketing slogan, “Dress to Kill.”

One of the most popular items at the show was offered by Intelligent Computer Systems, a California corporation. ICS was selling the “Image Masster Road Masster,” a device that lets authorities surreptitiously enter any citizen’s computer, instantly search its contents, and quickly copy anything of interest, without leaving a trace. Chinese police agencies have become enthusiastic purchasers. The device comes in a handy, color-coordinated briefcase that conceals its intrusive purpose. “You have to sort of steal stuff,” one of Road Masster’s designers explained to potential buyers.

Yeah – steal “stuff” like personal liberties. From video surveillance equipment to crowd control weaponry, corporations operating under America’s good name – your name and mine – are profiteering in the democracy repression market.

“At Trade Show, China’s Police Shop for the West’s Latest,” The New York Times, April 26, 2008

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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