Friday, November 1, 2019

Giving Notes on China

Eddy Cue, just a few months ago:

There’s never been one note passed from us on scripts, that I can assure you. We leave the folks [alone] who know they’re doing.

Alex Kantrowitz and John Paczkowski (via John Gruber, Hacker News):

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.

In early 2018 as development on Apple’s slate of exclusive Apple TV+ programming was underway, the company’s leadership gave guidance to the creators of some of those shows to avoid portraying China in a poor light, BuzzFeed News has learned. Sources in position to know said the instruction was communicated by Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of internet software and services, and Morgan Wandell, its head of international content development. It was part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to remain in China’s good graces after a 2016 incident in which Beijing shut down Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies six months after they debuted in the country.

Nilay Patel:

If you want to be the face of “privacy is a human right” then you are also the face of “we brushed off a targeted attack against a religious minority in China” and “we told our TV creators not to piss off China”

Nick Heer:

The bigger story here can be found in an article yesterday from Shane Savitsky in Axios[…]

Jason Kottke:

The partnership between China and Western governments & corporations has hit a rough patch recently, namely the Hong Kong protests and how the NBA, Apple, and gaming company Blizzard have handled various responses to them on their platforms.

Ben Thompson:

And then there is Apple: the company is deeply exposed to China both in terms of sales and especially when it comes to manufacturing. The reality is that, particularly when it comes to the latter, Apple doesn’t have anywhere else to go. That, though, is where the company’s massive cash stockpile and ability to generate more comes in handy: it is past time for the company to start spending heavily to build up alternatives.


The biggest, shift, though, is a mindset one. First, the Internet is an amoral force that reduces friction, not an inevitable force for good. Second, sometimes different cultures simply have fundamentally different values. Third, if values are going to be preserved, they must be a leading factor in economic entanglement, not a trailing one.

Nick Heer:

Just a few months ago, Tim Cook denied that the company was exploring other places to build their products. The depth and extent of the electronics supply chain in China beggars belief — and, in one of those decades-old twists of fate, Cook helped make it so. There are loads of American tech companies that build products in China; Apple’s particular investment, though, is notable.

Nilay Patel:

It’s not hard to understand that carmakers in the US market build to California emissions standards because they are the strictest - it’s the most efficient choice.

Not a leap to think global companies will hold themselves to China’s speech restrictions for the same reason.

Josh Rogin (via Ryan Saavedra):

Last year, China severely punished Marriott after an employee in Omaha, Neb., “liked” a pro-Tibet tweet. Marriott profusely apologized and fired the employee.

Joe Rogan:

Superstar German DJ ‘permanently banned’ from China for liking a ‘South Park’ tweet

Noah Smith:

HOLY SHIT there are a lot of American companies doing pro-China censorship!!!

Tom Gara:

The new DreamWorks movie uses a map of Southeast Asia that contains the Chinese “nine dash line” that annexes basically all of the South China sea[…]


Update (2019-11-06): Chance Miller:

Apple, alongside viral video sharing app TikTok, skipped a congressional hearing today that focused on the relationship between the tech industry and China. The absence of an Apple representative drew ire from some lawmakers at today’s hearing.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

As a HongKonger ( I dont like the name, but it seems it is the official word to describe people from Hong Kong for now ) and a long time reader of your blog, Thank You for spreading the word on oppression from China.

Engagement is better than absence. The world is a safer place with China woven into world markets, rather than isolated and fearful. The middle class of China evolved from a history of exploitation, and is now bigger than the US population. Reform in China will come from within, encouraged by contact with the rest of the world, but not driven by big companies cutting off their access to China, and China's access to us.

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