The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) push to register foreign apps threatens to remove Facebook, Instagram and X from Apple’s App Store in China.
China’s move to restrict the apps would close a loophole in the Great Firewall that allows Chinese iPhone users to download popular Western social-media apps such as Instagram, X (formerly called Twitter), Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp.
While China has for years blocked web access to those sites, iPhone users who download the services’ apps can engage on the platforms if they log on through a virtual private network, or VPN, that connects them to an internet server outside the country. Many users, especially younger people, do this even though China bans the use of unauthorized VPNs.
Combined, those five social-media apps have been downloaded from Apple’s app store more than 170 million times in China over the past decade, according to estimates by Sensor Tower, a market insights company. Some apps such as X were used to spread information and videos of protests against Covid rules in China that erupted late last year.
By next July, Apple will no longer be able to offer such apps in its China app store unless the app operators are registered with the government, under new rules issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in July this year.
Analysts say those operators are unlikely to register with the Chinese government because they could then have to comply with data transfer and censorship requirements, leaving Apple no choice but to remove them or face legal punishment.
MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last November:
In 2016, Apple’s “Operations Genius,” Tim Cook, secretly signed a secret agreement with the human rights-abusing Chinese Communist Party estimated to be worth more than $275 billion. Cook promised that Apple would do its part to develop China’s economy and technological prowess via infrastructure investments, business deals, and worker training in exchange for the CCP quashing its surge of what promised to be crippling regulatory actions against Apple, The Information reported last December.
Many years before that, some two decades ago, it was Cook who spearheaded Apple’s move to make products “Designed in California,” but “Assembled in China.”
Since Cook, 62, made his $275 billion secret deal with the CCP five years ago, and as he now nears retirement age, Apple has made precious little headway in diversifying its production away from capricious, authoritarian China.
If the $275 billion wasn’t to buy Apple half a decade to free itself by diversifying its production away from China, mitigating risk, what was it for?
Longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster [in November 2022] estimated that it would take as long as a decade for Apple to reduce its current near-total reliance on China to meaningful levels.
At the current rate, it doesn’t look like Apple has 10 months, much less 10 years to extricate itself from China.
Tim Cook painted Apple into this corner. It worked marvelously well, until it didn’t.
A publicly traded company CEO’s job is to act in the best interest of its shareholders.
But, Apple’s operations don’t scream “genius” today. They scream “RISK!” But, you know, the market just loooves risk.
Apple shareholders and, in turn, Apple’s rubber-stamping Board of Lackeys, should hold one person responsible if this spiraling China dilemma continues deteriorate: Timothy D. Cook.
So, what’s Cook’s plan for getting the company out of this boxed-in predicament into which he placed it? Certainly Apple shareholders have a right to know. Hopefully, Cook has a better plan than simply cashing out and dumping this nightmarish quandary into the lap of Apple’s next CEO.
See also: Tim Cook firmly latched Apple onto China’s CCP teat. What’s his plan for weaning it off? – November 2, 2022
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