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Google and China: What Obama can learn

By opposing Internet censorship, Google has now stood up to China on a basic freedom. Obama must do the same and tag China as a currency manipulator.

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For four years, Google has caved to Beijing’s demands to self-censor search results on its search engine within China. Now it has drawn a line in the sand about truth and transparency on the Internet. It will move its Chinese operations to Hong Kong in hopes of operating freely.

Given Google’s prominence on the Web, the move may force China’s rulers to rethink their stranglehold over information reaching 1.3 billion Chinese. But more important, Google’s decision to stand up for an ideal may serve as a lesson for other companies operating in China – and perhaps even for President Obama.

Mr. Obama has hesitated in challenging China’s curbs on basic freedoms. Most of all, he has avoided official criticism of one of China’s most damaging restraints: the manipulation of its currency on the open market.

There is little dispute that China pegs the value of its yuan by as much as 25-40 percent below that of other currencies, a move that gives its exports an unfair price advantage and destroys jobs in other countries. Its leaders want the revenue from this export-led growth model in order to maintain power over its restless and largely peasant population.

The International Monetary Fund bars countries from manipulating their currency in order to gain an advantage. But Beijing has reportedly pressured the IMF not to say that China is a violator.

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