As Apple’s services business grows in China, so does its censorship risk

“Apple Inc. took a public-opinion beating after it removed anticensorship tools from its China app store last weekend,” Li Yuan reports for The Wall Street Journal. “‘Shame on Apple!’ was a sentiment voiced on social media by some who felt Apple was placing its commercial interests above their need to access information.”

“Apple’s response, as has been the case previously, is that it did so to meet China’s regulatory requirements,” Li reports. “Get used to hearing that a lot in the future.”

“Apple’s got a China quandary. Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, is Apple’s biggest foreign market, generating about 20% of the company’s sales. China is also the mainstay of Apple’s global manufacturing and supply chain. Increasingly, as it sells iPhones to Chinese consumers, it is selling them Apple services too,” Li reports. “That is where the risks kick in. Apple became the standout China success story among big U.S. tech companies partly because the Chinese government views it as a hardware company. Now it is obviously more than that.”

“Censorship is becoming increasingly stringent under President Xi Jinping. Boisterous online debate, much less dissent, is being quashed. Internet sites, even startups, have to hire phalanxes of staff to censor content that the government deems inappropriate,” Li reports. “Apple shut down iBooks and iTunes Movies services in China last year. It removed the New York Times apps from the China App Store. Then last weekend Apple took down, according to mobile-app tracking site, over 400 apps with the description of ‘virtual private network’ (VPN), or software that enables users to circumvent the country’s vast system of internet filters. In all those cases, Apple said it was following Chinese laws and regulations.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Why does the Communist Party of China so fear free expression?

When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. — Thomas Jefferson

MacDailyNews Note: Tim Cook’s comments during Apple’s Q317 earnings conference call with analysts on Tuesday:

Turning to China, let me comment on what I assumed is at the root of your question about this VPN issue. Let me just address that head on. The central government in China back in 2015 started tightening the regulations associated with VPN apps, and we have a number of those on our store. Essentially, as a requirement for someone to operate a VPN, they have to have a license from the government there. Earlier this year, they began a renewed effort to enforce that policy, and we were required by the government to remove some of the VPN apps from the App Store that don’t meet these new regulations. We understand that those same requirements are on other app stores, and as we checked through that, that is the case.

Today there are actually still hundreds of VPN apps on the App Store, including hundreds by developers that are outside China, and so there continues to be VPN apps available. We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business. And we strongly believe that participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there and in other countries as well. And so we believe in engaging with governments even when we disagree.

And in this particular case, now back to commenting on this one, we’re hopeful that over time the restrictions that we’re seeing are loosened because innovation really requires freedom to collaborate and communicate, and I know that that is a major focus there. And so that’s what we’re seeing from that point of view.

Some folks have tried to link it to the U.S. situation last year, and they’re very different. In the case of the U.S., the law in the U.S. supported us, which was very clear. In the case of China, the law is also very clear there. And, like we would if the U.S. changed the law here, we’d have to abide by them in both cases; that doesn’t mean that we don’t state our point of view in the appropriate way. We always do that.

Joining Apple, Amazon’s China cloud service bows to censors – August 1, 2017
There are two sides to Apple’s China story – July 31, 2017
Apple issues statement regarding removal of VPN apps from China App Store – July 31, 2017
Apple removes VPN apps from China App Store – July 29, 2017
Apple sets up China data center to meet new cybersecurity rules – July 12, 2017
Analyst: China iPhone sales are pivotal for Apple – June 26, 2017
In bid to improve censorship, China to summon Apple execs to discuss stricter App Store oversight – April 20, 2017
Will Apple CEO Tim Cook stand up to China over App Store censorship? – April 19, 2017
Beijing cyber regulators to summon Apple over live streaming apps – April 19, 2017
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
Carl Icahn out of Apple over worries about China’s ‘dictatorship’ government – April 29, 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
Apple CEO Tim Cook joins Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ board of directors – April 6, 2016


  1. “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”
    ― Robert F. Kennedy

    “There is me that looks at China the way it is, and ask why don’t I pussy-out and kiss-ass for the money.”
    ― Pipeline Timmy

    Cook has missed a truly historic opportunity to stand for freedom of speech. He has the principles of a J.P. Morgan robber baron.

    1. You keep saying that Apple has lost a historic opportunity, but you never offer an alternative. What—specifically and in detail—do you think Tim Cook should have done? Explain it to me exactly as you would explain the impact on Apple’s share price to the investors who put their life savings into Apple stock on the assumption it wouldn’t tank.

        1. Botvinnik, a man who will stand on his principles as long as someone else pays the price. A man who believes in the separation of government and business until Trump takes office…then picking winners and losers is OK. After all, Trump is a billionaire.

          Quit trying to blame Apple for China. If you want to blame someone, start with Trump. Did Trump name China a currency manipulator n Day 1, as he promised so often? No. Has Trump established a great new trade deal with China, as he promised? No. In fact, by unilaterally withdrawing from the TPP, Trump has handed trade leadership in that region to China. Has Trump laid tariffs on Chinese products to penalize them for dumping retail goods in the U.S.? No. Instead, he let China off of the hook in exchange for dealing with North Korea. What a bargain that has been…China got rid of those North Korean ICBMs! Nope.

          So, now you want Apple to step in and carry the torch for U.S. ideals against a communist government that literally controls the production of the majority of Apple’s products. Sure, that makes sense. You are such a fool.

      1. As I suspected, you don’t have a clue what you would do, except not what Tim Cook would do. Just like your Great Leader didn’t have a clue what to do about health care, except not Obamacare. Leadership occasionally requires something more than just saying “No.”

  2. Tim Cook is the “world” face of American technological prowess, a public stand against this tyranny of Communist China could have been a beacon to the vast sea of Chinese people who long to be free. The Communist Chinese are like the French kings who tried to destroy all the printing presses…in fact, I predict, you will see a Free China within 20 years, hopefully less. When that happens, they won’t need to thank the coward, Tim Cook.

    1. “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
      ― Robert F. Kennedy

          1. It is hilarious how you smugly assume that you are right just when no one bothers to respond to your asinine comments. Of course, you also assume that you are right the rest of the time, as well. You are nothing, if not consistent in your insanity.

      1. “Very bad. It all began with a dangerous idea that we could make western democracies out of countries that had no experience or interests in becoming a western democracy … First, our resources are totally over extended….. We’re rebuilding other countries while weakening our own… We’re getting out of the nation-building business.”

        Donald Trump

  3. Doesn’t Tim Cook answer to a board of directors or does he always have the final say? All I know is I’m glad Apple ‘pussied out.’ As a shareholder, I want Apple to continue doing business in China. It just seems foolish to throw away a couple of hundred billion dollars investment to prove a minor point. I think if Chinese citizens are that upset over losing their VPN apps and privacy, they should be outside protesting against the Chinese government to change the regulations. I sure don’t want unnecessary friction between any American company and the Chinese government. There’s too much money at stake.

    1. As a shareholder, do you believe that there are more significant things in life than profits?

      your heritage has:
      “…we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

  4. $MONEY$ or FREEDOM.

    I know which I prefer.

    Irresponsible businesses wrecked the world’s economy in 2007. Maybe thinking ONLY in the short term, ONLY about money, is destructive of self and others. There’s plenty of history to point out that this is the case.

    So please Apple. As I’ve been pointing out for over a decade at this point:

    Get the hell out of China: Criminal Nation and be the Apple you know you’re meant to be in the world. It’s NOT the roll of a censorship enabling, techno oligarchy, money grubbing sellout. Or is it too late to point that out to you?

    Give me liberty or give me death. Please.

  5. The DailyKooks will go full tilt kook on this: Leadership Looks to Squelch Impeachment TalkWorried about the public perception of pushing for the impeachment of President Trump less than four months into his presidency, Democratic Party leaders are warning their more excitable members to back off calling for Trump’s ouster.The Hill:Democratic leaders have a message for those members of their caucus beating the drum to impeach President Trump: not so fast.“I would suggest … there needs to be a full investigation first,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday. “We need to get to the facts, and let the facts lead where they may.”In the eyes of several Democrats, however, the facts already lead to impeachment.[…]Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) spoke out at a closed-door House Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday morning to highlight the urgency of removing Trump, whom the Democrats increasingly see as a national security liability.Almost simultaneously, Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) took to the House floor to trumpet the impeachment call he’d sounded earlier in the week. He characterized his decision as a “position of conscience.”It’s the first time in her long career that Rep. Waters has given a fig about “national security.” And Mr Green: Put a sock in it.The impeachment debate is forcing Democratic leaders to walk a fine line in their approach to the ongoing Russia-Trump saga. On one hand, the Democrats want to keep the pressure on the White House and tap the energy the remarkable story is generating among members of their base, many of whom support the impeachment route. On the other, they don’t want to politicize their calls for an independent investigation.“We have to be circumspect as we look at this tale of horrors,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). “Because we should not give the impression that we are obsessed with removing Donald Trump from office — it will only harden his supporters.“Based on what I’ve read and heard, Mr. Trump is in trouble, and he doesn’t need any help to get into deeper trouble.”Top Democratic leaders insist they’re not putting any pressure on their troops to shy away from impeachment calls.“Members can come to their own conclusions, and we don’t pretend to stand here and speak on behalf of every single individual member of our caucus,” Crowley said.We don’t get nervous, we smile when we hear Obama Dimocrats call for impeachment of President Trump. As the corrupt Cleaver notes, “it will only harden his supporters”. And Trump supporters remaining Trump supporters in PA, MI, WI, and every other state Trump won – is what matters. Our only concern is that the DailyKooks will not go even further with their riots and totalitarian street violence tactics. Go, Kooks, Go!!!

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