>Which makes you wonder why the company has agreed to sign the pact.
It reads as though both sides got as much as they could given each others restrains. The Chinese government gets to widely proclaim that the real names of forum users are recorded and MS and others get to claim they won't comply with the requirement as it's only a guideline.
The BBC show HARDtalk recently interviewed the last Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten. My understanding of his view of the present Chinese government's predicament is that of a double bind. The Chinese government must continue to foster freedoms necessary to economic reform while maintaining power as a undemocratic government. Damned if they don't and damned if they do, the Chinese government's agenda of fostering economic reform before delivering on new freedoms seems to have put it in an untenable position that in anachronistic, Freudian terms would suggest a likely neurotic meltdown into a full blown psychotic episode. Past Reg articles have quoted Chinese government sources as speaking of the necessity of Harmony and Purity, Double Plus Good for a totalitarian regime wanting to move the goal posts laid up in heaven whenever things don't look good for their power base.
The American scientist, E.O. Wilson wrote a piece in the late 90's wherein he looked at China as the litmus test for world progress. China's population and environmental problems are such that, in Mr. Wilson's view, as it then was, it makes China the best test case for the world's present woes. It's not looking too good. Philosophically and politically, those who tout ideas of Harmony and Purity are in the camp of totalitarians unlikely to let go of power unless they've got covert control. The Japanese developed the political theory of the closeted emperor. The closeted emperor was one who stepped down from the throne only to pull the strings from behind closed doors. Somehow the totalitarian, Chinese government has to develop a mechanism that allows it to seemingly step aside in favour of democratic reform while keeping power. In the face of Harmony and Purity there's Terry Pratchett's idea that free people don't all pull together, rather, they pull in all directions at once. Pratchett's idea and those of Karl Popper's in 'The Open Society and It's Enemies' suggests we'll see much disharmony and pollution coming out of China. OTOH China, like the western democracies in America and Britain seem to be testing the idea that just enough economic prosperity will lull people into a stupor that allows for the loss of all but nominal freedoms. May you live long and prosper in interesting times?