“1984” in 2017: Apple’s Orwellian move in China

“Most people old enough to have watched the 1984 Super Bowl will not remember the two American football teams that played in it,” Tom Mitchell writes for The Financial Times. “They will probably remember ‘The Commercial.'”

“During a break in the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII, as the Los Angeles Raiders were running up the score on the Washington Redskins, CBS broadcast an Apple advertisement for its new Macintosh computer,” Mitchell writes. “Titled ‘1984’ in honour of George Orwell’s novel of the same name, it is today regarded as one of the best television commercials of all time. It is also sadly ironic in light of recent events in China, where Apple has decided to aid and abet Big Brother.”

“Last week, Apple confirmed it had pulled the New York Times’ app from its online store in China, where the newspaper’s website has been blocked by censors since 2012,” Mitchell writes. “The Chinese government’s leverage over Apple is enormous. But so is Apple’s leverage over the Chinese government, should it be brave — and wise — enough to use it. At a time when Beijing is simultaneously attempting to spur slowing economic growth and halt capital outflows, it badly needs foreign investment and the jobs it creates.”

“It may well be that Apple quietly fought the good fight before yielding to the authorities’ demand to pull an app that was allegedly ‘in violation of local regulations.’ But in confirming the decision, Apple could have at least specified what regulations the New York Times’ app had supposedly violated,” Mitchell writes. “It did not and the lack of transparency surrounding the affair has only added to the Orwellian nature of Apple’s surrender.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Scathing.

This must be especially mortifying to a CEO with a bust of RFK on his desk signifying that he’s a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights’ 2015 “Ripple of Hope Award” which is given to those “who have demonstrated a commitment to social change” and who reflect “Robert Kennedy’s passion for equality, justice, and basic human rights.”

Apple removes New York Times apps from App Store in China at behest of Chinese government – January 4, 2017
Apple CEO Cook accepts Ripple of Hope Award; says RFK’s spirit lives on at Apple – December 9, 2015


  1. I don’t think it’s particularly scathing, after all look at Apple’s home nation. It’s not exactly a shinning example of human rights to keep people locked up for no reason without being charged, or brought to trial, just kept locked up and tortured.

      1. Guantanamo, where the U.S. holds people it admits did nothing wrong. Then, it force-feeds them by inserting tubes into them (torture) when they stop eating in protest of over a decade of being held illegally.
        Go read about it, please.

        1. That’s a no brainer Roy. Everyone but a brainwashed moron knows that the nation that runs the Guantanamo on the Bay resort is a terrorist nation. The nation of course doesn’t have what it takes to bring one of it’s ex-leaders in question to answer for crimes against humanity so it’s just an opinion, but one substantiated by so many facts.

          Thanks Krioni and John Smith, I guess the message is finally getting through and people are waking up.

        2. But, they aren’t terrorists, and the U.S. government doesn’t think so, either. If you have been paying attention, the U.s. has _admitted_ that people it _thought_ were terrorists turned out to have done nothing wrong.
          But, now that they have been illegally imprisoned and tortured for over a decade, the U.S. is now afraid they will _become_ terrorists in retaliation.
          Please educate yourself, Roy – this is all public knowledge.

  2. How exactly is Apple supposed to go up against the Chinese government when they can shut down all of Apple’s internet connectivity in the country at a moments notice? Also, the treat domestic companies the same way.

    This is why it is up to a country’s citizens to demand freedom of the speech and freedom of the press.

    1. I understand about the citizens needing to stand up for freedoms. Remember in the USA when we had freedom of speech, press, and religion put into the constitution before it would be ratified that did not include a large segment of the population. Not just the slaves, also Native Americans. The founding fathers made them less human before any of the rights were given. They were also more concerned about having a national: postal service; weights and measures; common currency; copyright; and patents. These were part of the first draft before the bill of rights. My point is rights did not come quickly in this country, and were never above business interests. China, the one we know today, is a rather new country. Part of the original idea of opening our doors to them was that prosperity would empower the people to demand rights. It is starting to happen.

  3. Unless competitors would follow suit — they are not and will not — it would not make sense for Apple to punish itself to the benefit of competitors by refusing legal demand by the Chinese government. Yes, free speech advocates might not like those laws of China, but they are the reality.

  4. Reminds me of Barack Hussein Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who’s bombed 7 countries, three more than his predecessor, who he called a warmonger.

    Who will have less of a legacy when all is said and done, Barack Hussein Obama or Timothy Donald Cook?

    Since Obama’s actions will be virtually erased (due to his penchant for executive orders), probably Pipeline Timmy will beat him out.

  5. Things come to mind. Orwellian thought or oppression is on a spectrum. We all have some part of it to face, every day.

    The 1984 commercial was just that. The rhetoric was aimed right at IBM and the cold green/amber CRT of text. Apple offered a different way, revealed at Xerox Park to both Steve Jobs and later Bill Gates, as well as others. What was Orwellian was the notion that computing had to be a specific way. Apple showed, though the Mac and the 1984 commercial that there was another way – a more human way of computing.

    China is trying to control the dialog of a society of one billion plus of people, crammed into apartment buildings earning a pittance, on average. It’s not right, but understandable. Apple for its part provided a resource for distributing global knowledge that could look bad on the part of the Chinese government. The government blocked the content, so the NYT app was useless. It’s a nothing move and only helps Apple in China rather than show them as trouble makers.

    For its part Apple has not shown hypocritical motive as they were not trying to protect society in the first place. They have always been trying to sell computers – while changing the world. Better to do it at home though first.

  6. I anticipate a major political upheaval in China soon, the power of free speech inherent in the internet will unmask the tyranny of its government. Banning online newspapers is the practice of frightened despots, similar to when monarchies sent goons to destroy printing presses in 16th century Europe.

  7. Dr Trump needs to realize that you can’t have dang ole jobs in America. American. Ever was great there were no jobs here so Spple needs to stop with the shoe because you can’t manufacture in US! Look at the dang ole Mac Pro that ole thing is the worst commuter ever made doesn’t have upgrades doesn’t have ram doesn’t have mouse doesn’t have updated doesn’t have expandibility if you buy that thing you a dang ole fool so stop with the Make America Great Again nonsense Hilary was the winner of the dang popular vote and the Zeno phones need to leave they don’t even have the wall or the resources to build that wall so just give it a rest Hillary won and the Russians hacked it

  8. While the situation with China is vastly more complex than beating up on a bunch of Americans over a silly flag or a gun emoji, Mr. Cook is demonstrably choosy in which social injustices he wishes to combat. Then again, the foundation of leftist logic has always been absurdity reinforced by hypocrisy.

  9. China doesn’t have freedom of the press?!?!?
    Apple is bound by the rules, regulations and laws of what ever country they are in. China suppressing freedom of the press is not news, we all know that. Throw the name Apple into the headline and you have click bate that works.
    Now if China tells Apple what to do in the USA, THEN you have a real story.

    1. Apple is not in war with the USA either but Cook gladly takes on his LGBT battles there. The oppression in China is magnitudes worse than in the USA; it seems hypocritical to ignore that while prancing around for LGBT “rights” elsewhere.

      1. Getting involvec with Lgbt issues in US will hardly effect sales… but getting into a political battle with china can have seriouse negative consequences in sale..
        Its a fine balance.. and it has to be played carefuly…. some give and some take…
        But i here your concern!

  10. I don’t know why the U.S. has any trade with China considering that their communist government commits absolute atrocities against it’s people. It’s astonishing that the civilized world looks the other way.

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