Will Apple CEO Tim Cook stand up to China over App Store censorship?

“Chinese authorities plan to question Apple about video streaming services available over its app store within the country, in their latest move to intensify pressure on the American technology giant over the content it provides in the vast and crucial market,” Carlos Tejada writes for The New York Times. “A report on China’s official Xinhua News Agency late Wednesday said that the authorities would summon Apple to urge it to ‘tighten up checks on software applications available in the Apple Store.'”

“The inquiry appears to focus on third-party apps available on the company’s app store in China. The report said the authorities had told three Chinese websites to tighten their oversight of online information, livestreaming services and online performance,” Tejada writes. “The report comes as Chinese authorities put pressure on Apple over the apps and other content it offers its users in China, which in the fiscal quarter that ended Dec. 31 accounted for about one-fifth of its revenue.”

“The moves are part of a broader Chinese effort to regulate internet content,” Tejada writes. “A year ago, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down in China, six months after they were started there. In December 2016, complying with what it said was a request from Chinese authorities, Apple also removed news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China. Apple did not specify what prompted the request.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Surely, Apple CEO Tim Cook, as the newly-minted recipient of the Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award, will break Betteridge’s law of headlines, no?

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Apple goes on charm offensive in China with red iPhones and a visit by CEO Tim Cook – March 24, 2017
Apple CEO Tim Cook defends globalization, walks tightrope on privacy in rare public speech in China – March 18, 2017
Apple to spend $507 million to set up two more research centers, boost investment in in China – March 17, 2017
Apple removes New York Times apps from App Store in China at behest of Chinese government – January 4, 2017
China dethrones U.S. to become the largest market in the world for iOS App Store revenue – October 20, 2016
Apple to set up second R&D center in China – October 12, 2016
Apple’s first R&D Center in China will develop hardware, employ 500 – September 29, 2016
Apple CEO Cook ‘pretty confident’ of soon resuming movie and book sales in China – May 3, 2016
Apple’s biggest China problem: iPhone’s strong encryption – May 2, 2016
The New Yorker: What Apple has to fear from China – April 30, 2016
Why Carl Icahn is wrong about Apple and China – April 29, 2016
Carl Icahn out of Apple over worries about China’s ‘dictatorship’ government – April 29, 2016
Apple stock falls as Carl Icahn dumps all of his shares – April 29, 2016
Carl Icahn dumps all of his Apple shares; stock drops – April 28, 2016
China could slam door on Apple, says top global risk expert – April 25, 2016
China’s increasing censorship hits Apple, but Apple might punch back – April 22, 2016
China shutters Apple’s online book and movie services – April 22, 2016

52 Comments

    1. It is total bullshit, BT, like all of your posts. What would you have Apple do? Pull out of China and completely cede the market to Samsung and the Chinese knockoffs? All of that talk about “it’s just business” and “profits are more important than everything else” and now you would have Apple commit corporate suicide? You and MDN are even stupider and more hypocritical than I though, if that is possible.

      1. Total bullshit is what you must see when looking in a mirror.

        Even Google – GOOGLE! – stood up against Chinese censorship. Tim Cook’s Apple can’t even manage that – all while he cradles his “Free Expression Award” and pontificates about freedom of expression like the Liberal hypocrite he so obviously is.

            1. If you hadn’t noticed, he specifically asked a question, which expected an answer.

              And as I say, I’m reluctant to bother answering posts that are copy-pasted from elsewhere. He hardly ever posts anything original.

            2. Your first point was, “Total bullshit is what you must see when looking in a mirror.”

              If you actually expect a civil discussion after opening with that juvenile bratty tone, then you haven’t progressed far outside your playground, bully.

              Real debate is scarce in these forums precisely because people like you turn off all intellectual discussion with your ad hominem.

            3. “you’re a piece of work, Draghead.”
              “you anti-constitutionalist libtards”
              “tyrant”
              “you are bizarre”

              nobody holds a candle to your antisocial behavior, botty.

        1. Well that’s your interpretation. Google pulled some of its consumer products out of China 7 years ago, including Search, which is effectively blocked by the commie government –but Alphabet continues to distribute Android there. Google is partnering with Chinese search engine Sohu to keep itself in the that market. Just as here on pious MDN, Chinese websites are all crawling with Google ads and trackers. CEO Pichai stated last year, “I care about servicing users globally in every corner. Google is for everyone,” he said. “We want to be in China serving Chinese users.”

          I don’t recall you whining about Apple selling iPhones to commies in China. Today Apple earns more money in China than in the entire EU market. Perhaps your greed for a higher AAPL valuation has affected your strong political overtones. Name me a western corporation that is not doing business in China today, then we can all talk about how evil it is that Cook does what every other large company has done — including Google: begrudgingly play ball with communists in order to make more money.

        1. I. Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..

          “In an impassioned plea, Mr Cook, boss of the world’s largest company, says that the epidemic of false reports ‘is a big problem in a lot of the world’ and necessitates a crackdown by the authorities and technology firms.”
          “‘It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,’ said Mr Cook.

          Apple CEO Cook: ‘Fake news’ is ‘killing people’s minds’

            1. Slander and Libel are indeed crimes that can be cracked down upon. Those are not free speech issues. Of course, certain tolerances would be required, and warrants would need to be issued.

            2. Where’s the tyranny? Yes, we are talking about taking it to court. How do you think warrants get issued?

              You can’t just lie and call everything else “fake news”. If you knew the facts and intentionally lied, thus harming the reputation and aspirations of others, you have committed a crime. Combating that is tyranny?

              Your guys revulsion of the truth is breathtaking. Tyranny indeed…

          1. In United States constitutional law, false statements of fact are an exception from protection of free speech under the First Amendment.

            Pretty pathetic when a foreigner has to point out the blatantly obvious to you about your own constipation.

            Then again, your country beckons pathos.

            That’s not a fact, that’s an opinion, you know just in case you can’t tell the difference in your alternative reality universe.

            1. First quote is a paragraph from Wiki by the way, just in case you want to attack the source and me. After all that’s what you citizens from a terrorist nation do.

              Oh and you being a terrorist nation. That’s a fact, not an opinion.

  1. No. Cook has a responsibility to the shareholders. Apple is NOT a Chinese company, and Cook is NOT a Chinese citizen. He is an American, heading an American company, that is trying to do business in China. So, his choice is fairly simple: either comply with the Chinese law (how their courts interpret it), or withdraw from the Chinese market (of 2 billion potential customers).

    As a citizen of USA, a tax payer and a voter, he is entitled (and even expected) to voice his opposition to regulation that goes against what the company believes in (such as privacy). We have seen Cook clash with the FBI, NSA and other three-letter agencies, over issues such as customer privacy. Because he is an American (and a tax payer, and a voter), this is his right. In China, making such statements could be severely detrimental to Apple’s business in that country. The board of directors would quickly remove him if any such action ended up causing Apple’s exit from the Chinese market.

      1. Even Google – GOOGLE! – stood up against Chinese censorship. Tim Cook’s Apple can’t even manage that – all while he cradles his “Free Expression Award” and pontificates about freedom of expression like the Liberal hypocrite he so obviously is.

        1. Exactly HOW did Google “stand up” to the Chinese censorship??? They simply chose not to do business there, since trying to do business there would have required significant effort in adapting their services to meet the requirements of their laws. Google’s was a purely business decision.

          You are free to interpret it as it suits your political narrative, though.

          1. Google chose not to do business in China rather than kowtow to the communist authoritarian People’s Republic of China censorship demands unlike Apple CEO Tim Cook, so-called champion of human rights and free expression, who can’t kowtow quickly enough to the Chinese communist tramplers of human rights and proponents of widespread censorship.

        1. I just posted above to First – Then, and the same applies to you: your refusal to be civil on MDN would be grounds for dismissal on any properly moderated forum. It’s clear you and the few other extremely hostile political operatives here have no interest in discussion, only bleating your biased opinions and insults.

          If Predrag is subhuman for not adhering to your opinion, I hate to think of what pond scum others find you to be in real life.

      1. I’m not sure how does my response have ANYTHING at all to do with (presumably) American politics.

        With respect to your first sentence, you are saying this as if you’re somehow surprised.

        Apple is a publicly traded company, responsible to its shareholders, and the board of directors, as their representatives (in a way). Anything Apple does is a business decision and reflects to a smaller or greater extent on their bottom line. When Apple enters into a conflict with FBI, NSA, CIA and other domestic government agencies over the issues of customer privacy, you can be sure that, while a big reason for this is their genuine concert for their customers, but their primary motivation is their bottom line. No company can become the biggest in the world by market cap if this isn’t the case.

        1. “Apple is a publicly traded company, responsible to its shareholders…”

          Then don’t accept humanitarian awards using Apple’s name.

          We know that these freedoms require protection. Not just the forms of speech that entertain us, but the ones that challenge us. The ones that unnerve and even displease us. They’re the ones that need protection the most. It’s no accident that these freedoms are enshrined and protected in the First Amendment. They are the foundation to so many of our rights… This is a responsibility that Apple takes very seriously. First we defend, we work to defend these freedoms by enabling people around the world to speak up. And second, we do it by speaking up ourselves. Because companies can, and should have values. At Apple we are not just enabling others to speak up, we are doing so ourselves. – Tim Cook, accepting the Free Expression Award, April 18, 2017

          So, back to the original question: Will Apple CEO Tim Cook stand up to China over App Store censorship?

          No. Because Apple CEO Tim Cook is a flaming hypocrite who uses the Apple brand to promote his own agenda and indulge in his deluded fantasy that’s he’s The Gay RFK.

          1. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

            “Apple CEO Tim Cook is a flaming hypocrite who uses the Apple brand to promote his own agenda and indulge in his deluded fantasy that’s he’s The Gay RFK.”

            Ain’t that the brutal truth!

          2. Define what in your interpetation it means to “stand up to China”.

            Because it seems like you have high regard for a president who has done absolutely nothing but cowtow to China inbetween golf games. His bullying tweets and feckless executive memos haven’t changed corporate policy in China at all. Trump even backed down on his proposal to ban Chinese steel imports — probably in no small part because he was a large buyer of it for his hotels.

  2. No one US corporation has “stood up” to China, not even the ones the republican bloggers here worship. All corporations are beholden to profit, not nations, not individuals, and definitely not to your quaint notions of tradition or honor.

    Cook, like Trump just did last week, will play along if they can enrich themselves. That is all corporate assholes have ever done. Why expect different results this time?

  3. Assume you are at the meeting. The police tell you, “Withdraw these apps or we will shut you down.” Under Chinese law, they have the absolute right to say that. Your only two choices are either (1) withdraw the apps, or (2) commit a crime under local law that will result in the shutdown of your business operations and the seizure of all your assets in the country. Which do you choose?

    The only way to stand up to China is from outside the country. Apple does not have the leverage to change Chinese policy. The Chinese government does not tolerate criticism even from its own citizens, so all that directly confronting China will do for Apple is to get it thrown out.

    It might be a fine moral stance for Apple to allow China to shut down 95% of its manufacturing operations for the sake of principle, but I’m guessing that the stockholders would not see it that way.

    1. Precisely. And the only way to influence other nations to act openly and honestly is to have international organizations that allow for diplomacy and coordination.

      Cue botvinnik to intercede now with personal insults and ignorant whining about how evil global cooperation is. In the narrow mind of an isolationist, he would prefer to live behind a great wall and do no trade with people that he can’t identify from his own little clan’s inbred family tree.

      Interestingly, Cook has more power than Trump to dictate Chinese policy, precisely for the reason you pointed out, TxUser. Economic leverage is way more effective than Trump’s endless vapid tweeting.

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