Apple Appeasing China

We thought trade would bring Western values to China. Instead, it brought Chinese values to Apple

“Chinese netizens hail Apple’s removal of app that aids HK rioters.”

That was how the Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party outlet, covered Apple’s removal of HKmap.live, an app that helped Hong Kong protesters track police, from the iOS App Store. It was emblematic of the adulatory coverage news outlets controlled by the Chinese government have bestowed on Apple this week.

“Apple highly values the Chinese market and removing the controversial app is a smart move,” an analyst said in the article, driving home the party’s approval.

In the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, the story “Apple removes app which helped HK rioters elude police” was the business section’s most-read story Friday.

Apple’s recent actions in China are a continuation of the company’s years-long practice of appeasing Beijing. To do business in China, the company adopts to local dictates, distasteful as they may be to its CEO Tim Cook, an outspoken gay rights advocate and privacy crusader. It’s an ironic inversion of a longstanding argument in the West that by bringing China into the world trade system, the country would adopt western values. Instead, China is asking tech companies to adopt its values — and Apple is willing to pay that price.

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