A country’s self-preservation is most threatened when its national sovereignty is at stake. Sovereignty is the complete control exercised within a given geographic area, including the ability to pass laws and regulations and the power to enforce them. Governments or countries frequently view the existence of sovereignty as critical to achieving the goal of self-preservation. Although sovereignty may be threatened by a number of factors, it is the relationship between a government’s attempt to protect its sovereignty and a company’s efforts to achieve its own goals that are of primary interest to us.
Sovereignty supremacy of authority or rule free from external control
Subsidiaries or branch offices of international companies can be controlled or influenced by decisions made at headquarters, beyond the physical or legal control of the host government. Therefore, foreign companies are frequently viewed as a threat to the host country’s national sovereignty.
(It is important to recognize in this context that perceptions on the part of host countries are typically more important than actual facts.)
Many attempts at restricting foreign firms are now discouraged under agreements established by the WTO. Still, these agreements exclude a number of sensitive areas. Countries often limit foreign ownership of newspapers, television, and radio stations for reasons of preserving national sovereignty. They fear that if a foreign company controlled these media, it could influence public opinion and limit national sovereignty. Internet businesses can be especially vulnerable to government censorship. Google’s YouTube has been banned or temporarily blocked in China, Turkey, and Thailand in response to postings deemed insulting or threatening by the national governments of those countries. Google concedes that balancing free expression and local laws is a delicate task.
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