I've been thinking about the interplay of internet monitoring, internet privacy, blogging, political activism software/cinema/music recording piracy and the like.
On the one hand, the United States government and its allies in the West love political freedom and criticize nations like China that monitor free political expression on the internet. The United States holds itself up as a paragon of popular political liberty in this regard, and it sees the internet as the newest front in the battle for the hearts and minds of freedom-lovers throughout the world.
The United States also has no problem enlisting the support of Hollywood motion picture companies, actors and recording industry stars to support its foreign policy causes, either directly or indirectly, such as through criticisms of China's treatment of human rights dissidents, Tibet and Dalai Lama, not to mention China's close strategic partner, the military Junta in Burma. The U.S. Department of State has also worked with various companies to develop software that enables political dissidents to surf the web in China (and other places) while avoiding the scrutinizing eye of government watchdogs and censors.
All this angers China
On the other hand, the People's Republic of China knows very well that the Achilles Heel of the U.S. political system is corporate profit and corporate influence. One of the best ways to influence Congress is to hurt leading US corporations through their pocketbook. It seems that China is "paying back" many US media companies (whom they accuse of doing the bidding of Washington by spreading US propaganda abroad) by failing to regulate the video, music and software piracy business in the mainland.
In some ways, this is ironic.
The US claims that it supports unfettered access to free speech, at least in principle. Yet in practice, the US always attaches the caveat that free speech only applies to those who can pay for it, even if this means paying a very high price.
In China, there seem to be many restrictions on speech, but that which is allowed is very cheap and very easily available, and as such, hurts the financial interests of China's leading geopolitical contender (America) and its chief propaganda arm (Hollywood) a great deal, by way of a totally unregulated, laissez faire video, software and music sale industry, one rife with piracy and violations of US and international copyright and trademark law.
As I analyze this situation, in a broad and abstract manner, I can't help but think that this is all part of a bigger game, one where "free speech" and "property rights" are really just rhetorical, jingoistic slogans in an ongoing soft-power cold-war of one-upsmanship, where a "battle for ideas and markets" is adding an additional, 21st century arena to the age-old human drama of geopolitical competition and intrigue.