Here’s a story about a Chinese couple filing a lawsuit in a US District Court against Yahoo for the company having provided information that Chinese authorities used to sentence the man to prison (for his writings online). I don’t see what can come from this other than a symbolic gesture. If imprisoning and torturing people for expression of ideas is the law in China, and if United States trade law honors Chinese law as I believe it does (somebody with more legal expertise than myself correct me if I am wrong here), then what case do they have?
Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky in his famous book The Case For Democracy argued that to encourage reform in oppressive states the West should make relations with those states dependent on the degree to which they honor basic human rights. In so doing we utilize one great advantage a free society enjoys over an oppressive one–it is invariably more prosperous. The reasoning is that the oppressive society needs the technology and assistance of the free society more than the free society needs anything the oppressive society has to offer.
Obviously the West lacks any will whatsoever to carry out Sharansky’s idea, as one can plainly see from looking at relations with China, or Saudi Arabia, or hell, Iran. Read this Opinion Journal piece on EU dealings with Iran and ask yourself what incentive the Ayatollahs have to ever change their ways.