Big Money Matt Asay opened up on China's demand that Internet cafes install its Red Flag Linux this morning, suggesting authoritarianism at work.
Second, why assume this is some nefarious plot by the central government? That's for paranoid lefty bloggers. It's just possible this is a shakedown by some local official for license revenues.
Third, even if Red Flag Linux is government-sponsored, is it not still open source code? If backdoors are going into the kernel users can see them, or at least the CIA can. As opposed to, say, Windows.
None of this is meant to imply, in any way, that China is somehow free and America is somehow repressed. But the question is not nearly so black-and-white as it once was.
As the Internet and open source grow everywhere, this will be increasingly true. Even if technical means give you warning, there is just too much chaff to be certain that something is going on and prevent it from happening.
This is simple, messy reality. Just because China has made it government policy to support open source does not make open source a government plot.
Not so long as we can see the code.