Apple is one of the companies now under fire for appearing to bow under pressure from China.
A letter from senators and members of Congress reveals the serious concern over Apple’s censorship of apps in Hong Kong and China.
Apple Censorship Of Apps
Even back in 2017, Apple had the New York Times app removed from the China app store upon the request of Chinese authorities. In recent months, Apple cut off China’s access to a news app covering the Hong Kong protests, made it difficult to find the Taiwanese flag emoji in Macau and Hong Kong, and even reportedly told Apple TV+ Creators to avoid negatively presenting China.
Most noticeable among these controversial moves, however, is when Apple removed HKMap from its app store just a day after a Chinese state newspaper criticized the company for approving it in the first place.
The move prompted criticisms from democracy activists all over the world, and CEO Tim Cook had to defend the decision to remove it, saying the app was being used for violent actions and that the move was made to protect users.
Cooperation To Complicity
In their letter to Cook, Senators Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz, as well as Congress members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher, and Tom Malinowski expressed their concern over these recent actions, particularly the removal of HKMaps.
The lawmakers stated their disappointment with Apple, saying that the company removed the tool that demonstrators use to keep protesters away from harm. Moreover, they also cited a report showing that Apple censored over 2,200 apps in China, including one that was created by and made for oppressed ethnic minorities.
“You have said publicly that you want to work with China’s leaders to effect change rather than sit in the sidelines and yell at them,” the lawmakers wrote. “But when a repressive government refuses to evolve or, indeed, when it doubles down, cooperation can become complicity.”
‘Values Above Market Access’
The lawmakers describe Apple’s recent moves, particularly its removal of HKMaps to accommodate the Chinese government, as“deeply concerning,” especially with China’s fast-growing attempts to control American companies such as Apple, Activision Blizzard, and the National Basketball Association.
These cases, according to the lawmakers, raise concerns over whether large American corporations will bow to the Chinese government’s demands rather than lose over a billion Chinese customers. As such, they are urging Apple to change its course.
“In promoting values, as in most things, actions matter far more than words,” they wrote. “We urge you in the strongest terms to reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.”