China’s quixotic quest for ‘Zero-COVID’ is a concern for Apple

Apple’s bet on China looks increasingly risky, especially amid the country’s lockdowns in a quixotic quest for “Zero-COVID.”

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Debby Wu for Bloomberg News:

I was at dinner last Friday when a Taiwanese businessman told me the story of his trouble with Chinese roads. “The driver that’s helping deliver my coffee beans in southern China has now been stuck on the highway for five days,” he said.

The delays were caused by widespread lockdowns and road closures intended to drive China’s coronavirus caseload down to zero.

It’s a nightmare scenario for any business. But imagine, now, that that driver was carrying components for Apple Inc.

Eventually, even Apple may not be immune to the logistical mess now afflicting parts of the country. Covid Zero policies have the potential to waylay the company’s hardware components, a scenario that could have rippling consequences, particularly during peak season when assemblers like Foxconn Technology Group and Quanta Computer Inc. need to secure all the components they can to make iPhones and Macbooks and ship the products.

Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pledge in March that officials should reduce the economic impact from the country’s Covid Zero policies, China’s virus-curbing strategies have become unpredictable and volatile.

For evidence, look no further than the sweeping lockdown of 25 million residents in Shanghai, which has triggered food shortage concerns. It’s become clear that—as the country battles the virus—the economy has fallen far down Beijing’s list of priorities.

MacDailyNews Take: Clearly, Apple under Tim Cook had, has, and, for the foreseeable future, seems like it will continue to have far too much exposure to China and the CCP’s overbearing and often irrational whims.

As we wrote on March 15, 2022, “Memo to China: There’s no such thing as zero-COVID. Duh.”

As we’ve said for years now, for better and worse, Apple is wedded to China. It will take many years to even begin to extricate itself from this relationship, at least the the point where the company has some meaningful leverage that the CCP understands.

This situation has been building for years and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to get worse for Apple, not better.

As we wrote back in October 2019, even before COVID sprang from Wuhan, China:

There exists a dichotomy that screams hypocrisy that is impossible to overlook:

Apple CEO Tim Cook, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ 2015 Ripple of Hope Award for “his lifelong commitment to human rights,” who subsequently took a place on the board Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights the following year, and winner of Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award in the Free Speech category, no less also aids and abets China’s commitment to violating human rights with serial regularity.

Two phrases immediately spring to mind:
• Do as I say, not as I do.
• Talking the talk, but not walking the walk.

Accepting awards, plaudits, and board positions for “free speech” and “human rights” while banning publications and protest apps are tough actions to reconcile due to their diametrically opposed nature.

For how long can Tim Cook, and by extension, Apple, get away with positioning themselves as the world’s white knight while kowtowing to every whim of the Chinese authoritarian socialist censors?

China is critical for Apple in every way from sales to product assembly, so Apple continues to kowtow to China. With Apple’s strong stance – in other places of the world – on users’ rights and privacy, it’s a bad look for the company and a tough tightrope that Tim Cook is trying to walk.MacDailyNews, July 29, 2017

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  1. Last I checked, China is a sovereign nation. They will set their own policy, hopefully in the interests of the Chinese people and not Apple’s. Right or wrong, but quixotically. The audacity of expecting otherwise…!

    1. The CCP is a brutal authoritarian communist genocidal scourge.

      Figures you love it.

      The effort to stamp out covid-19 in Shanghai has taken on the characteristics of a military campaign. The army has published photos of planes offloading personnel and supplies. Tens of thousands of medical workers have marched into the city. At least as many covid patients will be spirited out—bused to field hospitals in neighbouring areas, sometimes hundreds of kilometres away. The rest of the city’s 25m residents will remain locked down as the fight against the virus drags on.

      The campaign in Shanghai has been nothing short of a mess, say residents. They have faced varying restrictions since early March and are now confined to their homes. Food shortages are a problem. People complain of going without medicine. In China’s largest city the government’s strict covid controls are stoking anger.

      Unsurprisingly, the authorities were unready to support people during the hastily conceived lockdowns. And residents themselves were given little time to prepare. Some rushed to supermarkets, leaving aisles empty. Getting basic provisions has become a struggle. Messaging boards linked to Weibo, a popular Twitter-like platform, have been inundated with pleas for help. One woman said her father, who is suffering from cancer, was blocked from leaving his home and is “considering suicide”. A man sought epilepsy medication for his young son; he “did not dare consider the consequences” of failing to obtain it. Videos show people fighting over boxes of food. This correspondent has struggled to obtain potable water.

      Abandoned warehouses, expo centres and shipping containers have been converted into makeshift isolation centres for those who test positive. Videos show patients protesting against a lack of food, water and treatment. Health workers have been filmed striking people or pulling them by their hair from their homes. But the authorities’ most controversial policy has been separating covid-positive children from their parents. Videos of dozens of children, some just months old, lying five to a bed, caused an uproar. The government has since said that infected parents could accompany their covid-positive offspring, and that healthy parents of infected children with special requirements could apply to go with them.

      People have also been angered by the leaked recording of a phone call purportedly between a Shanghai resident and an official from the local office of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. On the call, which The Economist has not verified, the official says Shanghai’s policies have been driven by political considerations, not public-health concerns. She says that co-ordination between hospitals has been poor and that medical supplies are running low. People with mild or no symptoms should quarantine at home, she suggests, contradicting official policy. She also says tests have been rigged to show negative results in order to free up capacity in the overwhelmed health system while appearing to adhere to the government’s zero-covid mandate.

      News of the call was quickly followed by a visit to Shanghai by Sun Chunlan, a deputy prime minister in charge of fighting covid, who reiterated the state’s “unswerving adherence to the dynamic zero-covid approach”.

      Analysts believe the measures are dealing a big blow to China’s economy, which may not grow at all this quarter compared with the last.

      For now, cases in Shanghai continue to rise. Food is growing scarcer. Residents have been filmed on their balconies, chanting to be set free. But… relatively few Chinese have natural immunity. A large outbreak in the country could result in millions of deaths.

      The Economist, April 9, 2022

      Zero-COVID is not a thing. It’s fantasy. Hopefully, the continued “quixotic quest” for it foments revolution and brings down the entire CCP.

        1. Yes, the Big Lie that you have ANY credibility, BSApple, that you have a single braincell worth anything, because you are the SCUMSAMSUNG owner who is soooo full of BS that you prove it by being a Samsung buyer. You can’t be more full of BSthan that!

  2. Face it Apple, do you really want to deal with souper pooper nations? Zero Covid kidders, Ukrainian Nazis, WMD in Iraq, Brawling Brexit…

    Consider diversify and the benefits of investing into peaceful countries, you know the ones without bully nukes.

  3. Zero-Covid does not follow the science, all it is, is an excuse to trample the people in that country and Shanghai, Show them whose boss.. as if they didn’t already know.

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