The Greanville Post | October 17, 2019
Lenin famously quipped that capitalists would happily sell anyone the rope with which to hang them. The revolutionary leader was obviously betting on the fact that for the big industrialists profits always came first, way ahead of principles, and even at the risk of their own lives. In the midst of a large (second) insidious color revolution against China, this time anchored in Hong Kong, a test of such ideas is under way, as major American firms begin to realise that their eagerness to support America’s Deep State and its hybrid war against China may come at a high price. As NYT technology editor Jack Nicas reports, Apple, which, like many tech giants, had already jumped onto the “pro-democracy” propaganda wagon without thinking much about the possible consequences, (the firm furnished the Hong Kong rioters with an app [“HKmap.live”] to track police movements), is now beating a quick retreat, as Tim Cook, the company’s chief honcho, sheepishly eats double portions of humble pie in order to preserve Apple’s enormously profitable foothold in mainland China:
With its reversal, Apple joined a growing list of corporations that are trying to navigate the fraught political situation between China and Hong Kong, where antigovernment protests have unfolded for months. <> That minefield was evident this week when an executive of the N.B.A.’s Houston Rockets tweeted his support of the Hong Kong protests. The tweet prompted a backlash from the Chinese authorities, leading to apologies by the Rockets and ultimately the cancellation of broadcasts of N.B.A. exhibition games in China, one of the N.B.A.’s largest markets.
SAN FRANCISCO — Apple removed an app late Wednesday that enabled protesters in Hong Kong to track the police, a day after facing intense criticism from Chinese state media for it, plunging the technology giant deeper into the complicated politics of a country that is fundamental to its business.
Apple said it was withdrawing the app, HKmap.live, from its App Store just days after approving it because the authorities in Hong Kong said protesters were using it to attack the police in the semiautonomous city.
A day earlier, People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial accusing Apple of aiding “rioters” in Hong Kong. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the article, which was written under a pseudonym that translates into “Calming the Waves.”
Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, said in an email to employees on Thursday that the company had removed the app after receiving “credible information” from the authorities and people in Hong Kong “that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.” As a result, he said, the app violated Apple rules and local laws.
“National and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts,” he said in the letter, which was viewed by The New York Times. “In this case, we thoroughly reviewed them, and we believe this decision best protects our users.”
With its reversal, Apple joined a growing list of corporations that are trying to navigate the fraught political situation between China and Hong Kong, where antigovernment protests have unfolded for months.
That minefield was evident this week when an executive of the N.B.A.’s Houston Rockets tweeted his support of the Hong Kong protests. The tweet prompted a backlash from the Chinese authorities, leading to apologies by the Rockets and ultimately the cancellation of broadcasts of N.B.A. exhibition games in China, one of the N.B.A.’s largest markets.
Companies ranging from Marriott to United Airlines to Versace have also backtracked on perceived slights to the Chinese government in the past, such as customer surveys that suggested Taiwan was an independent nation. All the firms are balancing the enormous economic opportunity in China, with its 1.4 billion consumers, with the negative public image of capitulating to an authoritarian government.
[Here’s how Hong Kong’s protests have evolved into a broader pushback against Beijing.]
No multinational company arguably has as much at stake in China as Apple, which assembles nearly all its products there and counts the country as its No. 3 market after the United States and Europe. It tallied nearly $44 billion in sales in the greater China region, which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong, in the year that ended June 30. Apple’s stock price often rises or falls depending on how it is performing in China.
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