Apple shareholders defeat proposal over Chinese app removals

At the Apple shareholders meeting on Wednesday, voters defeated a proposal critical of the company’s removal of apps at the request of the Chinese government, but the proposal drew a much higher proportion of votes than similar proposals in previous years.

Apple shareholders meeting. Image: Apple logoStephen Nellis for Reuters:

The proposal had called on the iPhone maker to report whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.” Shareholders defeated it, with 59.4% voting against and 40.6% voting in favor.

The proposal highlighted Apple’s 2017 removal of virtual private network apps here from its App Store in China. Such apps allow users to bypass China’s so-called Great Firewall aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.

Apple shareholders have voted down human rights measures related to China in the past. They defeated a 2018 proposal that urged Apple to create a human rights panel to oversee issues such as workplace conditions and censorship in China, with 94.4% of shareholders voting against it.

MacDailyNews Note: In addition, shareholders approved Apple’s existing board of directors, executive pay, and the retention of Ernst & Young as its accounting firm. Shareholders defeated a “proxy access” proposal to allow shareholders to nominate more than one director to Apple’s board, (68.9% against, 31.1% for) and also voted down a measure to tie executive compensation to environmental sustainability metrics (87.9% against, 12.1% for). Apple had opposed both proposals.


  1. Close to 60% shareholders voted against the proposal to have Apple “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.” Sorry, when it comes to China, Apple abides by the Golden Rule. If Apple wants the “gold” then it abides by China’s rules. Just like the NBA and the likes of LeBought James who was worried about his Billions $$$ in contracts versus an American NBA Manager expressing his right to free speech “tweet” showing support for Hong Kong protesters. What gutless cowards are in the NBA. Now, if we were talking about bathrooms, the NBA would have been all over that.

    While it was the shareholder’s vote that shot down such a proposal, that’s okay. Everyone who voted more then likely has no worries about any consequences to their freedom of expression. Apple, however, could do the right thing without the need of a shareholder proposal. Again, if it were bathrooms, Apple would have made its feelings known.


    1. the last time i looked, Apple was a business. the primary purpose of a business is to make money. if Apple’s priority was NOT to make money, it would be a non-profit. now if that business to earn profit and make money also happens to benefit the community and culture, that’s nice. but in the end, profit matters most. if you don’t like how Apple makes money, then patron another company – no one is holding you hostage to give Apple your money, you do it by your choice.

      too often i see folks get so wrapped up into the identity of Apple and the cult of Apple and its culture that they forget about the business side of the equation. the bottom line is to make money. if that means abiding by a foreign entities rules to make money in that market, then that’s the game you play to make money. Apple is not in the business to change the world, it’s in the business to make money. if you want to change the world as priority, then be a non-profit or a government.

      Apple is neither. drop it.


    2. on the other thread on this topic I asked:

      “Would somebody please explain to me how anybody in China would benefit if Apple refused to pull unlicensed VPN apps? That would simply lead the PRC to shut down the App Store entirely. Chinese Apple customers would still not have the banned apps, but they would not have any other apps either. Please explain how the Chinese user and developer communities are any better off under that scenario than if only unlicensed VPN apps are affected.”

      I have yet to receive a coherent answer. Apple obeys the law in each of the jurisdictions where it does business. That means the actual laws adopted by the local government, not the laws that Apple wishes they had adopted instead. The Chinese laws requiring VPNs to be licensed are a terrible affront to the freedoms of speech and association, but Apple cannot ignore those laws and continue to do business in the country. The only way that Apple can avoid non-American laws is to do business only in America.

      To repeat: how does that benefit anyone?

      1. The “striking”(another MDN article) thing about this vote is the willingness of folk to blame/penalize Apple for China’s human rights issues in the absence of government level leadership which is the proper place to apply pressure from. Gutless politics that put trade above all else, in a principle free zone are the true villains here. Why do these critics always go for the low hanging fruit?

    3. Most of the on floor or blue collar talent have zero to do with upper management decisions (it’s the good old boys), Hong Kong is over since 1999, just bend over and except your new Chinese friends moving in soon to the US and Canada.

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