Cisco used Maoist rhetoric to pitch its networking kit to the Chinese government and customised it to help Beijing crack down on the Falun Gong movement, a lawsuit claims.
Falun Gong supporters in the US filed the suit in California last week, the New York Times reports.
The suit claims that Cisco helped design China's Great Firewall, which helps the Beijing government keep a lid and track dissenters such as Falun Gong, troublesome artists and people who insist on running internet searches on Tiananmen Square.
Cisco boss John Chambers is named in the suit along with other execs, the suit says.
According to the NYT, sales materials compiled for the Chinese government referred to the "douzheng evil Falun Gong cult and other hostile elements". Douzheng was a term used during the Cultural Revolution to describe undesirable groups.
Other Cisco docs made suggestions as to how technology could be used to track subversive elements, the suit claims.
The suit has been brought by the Human Rights Law Foundation, on behalf of three named Falun Gong members and eight other unidentified members, some of whom have been allegedy tortured or killed.
Cisco condemned the suit, telling the NYT: "Cisco does not operate networks in China or elsewhere, nor does Cisco customize our products in any way that would facilitate censorship or repression.”
Given the expertise of Chinese datacoms manufacturer Huawei in Cisco gear, it hardly seems necessary for Beijing to have asked for Cisco's help to tweak its kit.
Falun Gong is a movement that loosely speaking grew out of Qijong, but which has a slightly more moral temper. To Western eyes it might appear to be an even more static version of Tai Chi, but Beijing apparently places it somewhere between market capitalism and satanism as a threat to the state and has set out to eradicate the movement. ®