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Apple Removes Apps from China Store That Help Internet Users Evade Censorship (nytimes.com)
433 points by mcone on July 29, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 424 comments

You cannot do business in China without doing what they tell you. Period. Either you do it or you leave. I work for a big company (you would all know) and we have a large business unit in China, they own 52% of it. They decide what goes in and how customers can use it. We don't get to decide anything without government approval. It's so easy to claim the West shouldn't do what the leadership of China wants in China, but in reality the only alternative is to abandon China to those who will do what they are ordered to. The market is too large to leave. If you don't agree to their rules you don't play in their sandbox.

> You cannot do business in China without doing what they tell you.

Of course, I get that. But it's always companies like Apple that make so much noise about social justice who don't stick to their guns when China's involved.

I don't get your complaint at all. What would you rather have them do? What would "sticking to their guns" involve?

Or would you rather have them not "make so much noise" about social justice?

Don't do business in china! It's that simple. If you can't do business in a local without getting blood on your hands, then don't do business there.

This. A market being large isn't an excuse for bloody hands.

Furthermore, don't let Chinese companies trade on US exchanges if they participate in human rights abuses.

Everyone knows what the Chinese government is doing strategically with leveraging access to their markets in exchange for control and forced tech transfer. Other countries are well within their moral rights to insist upon a quid pro quo... or else do the same to Chinese companies (who are just starting to reach scales where international expansion is as important to them as domestic).

The problem for product companies is that the secondary market still exists, and people's perceptions of a brand can be affected by its secondary market just as well as they can by its primary market.

If Apple isn't in China, that doesn't mean that nobody will be able to sell iPhones in China. That just means that Apple won't be selling iPhones in China. But someone, somewhere will still be importing iPhones into China, and people will buy them, and people will associate the resulting product experience with Apple. Those people will then blog about that experience, putting their perceptions on the world stage, where people in other countries' perceptions of the product can be affected by that conversation.

Which means that, if Apple has no Chinese app-store, then people in America will end up thinking worse of Apple. The American zeitgeist will be touched by Chinese-Americans who read Chinese-language blogs written by people living in China, where the experience of having an iPhone will suck because Apple "doesn't support China."

This generalizes to "Apple should do business with everyone" though.

And it's not really moral high ground if you're taking it through no cost to yourself.

Easy for a iphone tapper in to say until it affects you

This would harm Chinese people. If you lived in China, would you consider an iPhone or a Chinese phone to be more secure against intrusion?

That's a very naive point of view.

Apple has shown the willingness to compromise to access the Chinese market, so there's absolutely no reason to believe that they wouldn't or haven't bow to their other demands, including the weakening of their device security.

Your argument is that it's OK to hurt someone if there's a chance that they might be hurt regardless.

If I were Chinese I'd be feeling pretty damn patronized if someone told me they were taking my iPhone away and I should be happy about it.

> If I were Chinese I'd be feeling pretty damn patronized if someone told me they were taking my iPhone away and I should be happy about it.

No. You just have to reform your government or leave your country, then you can have it back. I know that this isn't likely, but putting more pressure on the CCP is exactly what Apple could be doing here.

(Edit: The sibling comment thread already goes into detail on this idea.)

If Apple is willing to revoke apps that China doesn't like, are they willing to add secret encryption backdoors too? Where do they draw the line?

You're right that a clear dividing line is needed here. To be fair to Apple, though, they have given this official statement on the matter:

"As we have stated before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will. It’s something we feel very strongly about."


It is perhaps notable that Apple is not trying to hide or deny this removal of VPN apps (not that they could really do that effectively). As long as Apple is open about its policies, then we have our clear dividing line (and it would be unreasonable to expect Apple to think of every conceivable future technological/policy question in advance).

Still, this is assuming that we can trust Apple to admit its policies, and moreover to consistently follow them, which even governments seem to have trouble doing. It would be nice to instead have technological ecosystems where end users and citizens didn't have to trust the policies and promises of powerful organisations.

> Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.

Is there any reason for them to not automatically generalize this to "...with any entity from any country"? I'm wondering about a case where a government agency hides behind some other veil and makes Apple insert some backdoor.

They could always do what Google did and abandon China.

Google ended up losing the entire Chinese market to Baidu, who are going to end up being a global competitor, and the general population didn't even care that Google left. Apple learned from this that you could be a big deal in the West, but a nobody in the East.

Google lost nothing. China never had any intention of allowing Google to become dominant in China. That was apparent from day one and comports perfectly with their explicitly stated and demonstrated agenda.

Agreed. When the explicit goal of arbitrarily changed rules are "We'll screw you in favor of a local competitor", why would you choose to play?

Either you are successful, and then the rules are changed to disadvantage you further. Or you're unsuccessful because of the rules. Lose / lose.

Or you lose because you lose fair and square. But you're right, either way you can't win.

>who are going to end up being a global competitor

They already demonstrated they cannot compete without help from the government. It's an inferior product that can only succeed because the better competitors are banned. Kind of like iPhone default browser.

To be fair, they'd more or less already lost the entire Chinese market to Baidu before they left anyway (they had ~15% marketshare or something).

Anecdote...my Chinese friends have said Google was poor for Chinese language searches. Might explain the 15% market share.

China was never going to be Google's to win in the first place based on their refusal to censor searches. In 2010 Google had 36% of the search market in China[1], so I imagine that "the general population" did care.

Also I'm pretty that Google isn't a nobody in "The East", The East is much more than just mainland China.

[1] https://www.slideshare.net/anksiitk/googles-negotiations-wit...

Apple will loose in China because of blocking these apps as well this will be another reason to not buy Apple for many.

I don't understand what you're saying. The alternative is not doing business in China at all, how would they sell more phones in China by getting out of the Chinese market, vs staying in China and complying with the government's demands? I'm very curious about what your market research indicates, because it sounds like a contradiction.

I think what xbmcuser is saying is that Apple is screwed either way: don't pull the apps and be kicked out of China altogether, or pull the apps and lose a competitive advantage. Not that Apple would lose _more_ this way, simply that they still lose.

Yeah that's what I meant either way Apple is going to loose it stays in China or not. They already stopped weechat Payments etc now they are stopping vpn apps so another reason for people in china not to use Apple. I bet in a few years or so China will make using foreign phones about national pride once that happens all other phone manufacturers including Apple will be sidelined.

Nah, they really can't. Apple's margins depend on Chinese labor to build their hardware.

The two companies are very different.

They could stop operating in Saudi Arabia to show their support for gay rights. But again, there's money to be made. Much easier to just slam Trump or whoever.

Saudi Arabia isn't demanding they cripple their products, so selling their products in Saudi Arabia isn't ethically fraught. And Apple isn't spending their time slamming Trump. They're a tech company, not a politician.

These days, ANYONE with a platform, of ANY kind -- cable TV show, massive Twitter following, corporate officer of a Fortune 500, et. al., is a politician.

Some people just want a normal buyer-seller relationship without picking sides.

Was that ever an option? It's called 'voting with your wallet'.

That's what cable TV wants you to think, sure. But even if that's true, all of those people and organizations you mentioned should be resisting getting sucked into political vortices whenever it is remotely possible to do so. It's a sad commentary on the state of the world today, not something to be embraced.

Market size and profit aren't an acceptable excuse for hypocrisy.

i think you'll find that in the real world, those are almost always used as excuses, and the money makes it acceptable.

That's an Apple business decision.

100% agree. Their business, their rules.

And our prerogative to judge them when they behave unethically.

Google was aspirational in China when it left: they weren't making much money there...they hoped to in the future.

Apple is not aspirational in China today: they are already making a lot of money there. Leaving China would cause an immediate shock to its stock price as well as a huge cut in actual profits.

> Google was aspirational in China when it left: they weren't making much money there...they hoped to in the future.

I was an engineer on Google's web search indexing system for 4 years (including the Aurora attack), leaving shortly before Google's China exit. I listened to several talks by the head of Google China, who came from Baidu.

Even before the Aurora attack, as a matter of national pride, we knew the very best Google could hope for was 30% or 40% market share in China. Even France funded one or two attempts at a Francophone Google killer. I can't imagine the U.S. looking at a dominant search company based out of anywhere except North America (or perhaps the Anglophone Five Eyes) and not butting up significant nationalistic barriers.

Google was hoping to make profits, but they knew they would never be dominant. This made their exit much easier.

If Google was serious about China, they would have had a more obscure non-Google-branded name for their Chinese joint venture and would have branded their front page much differently. The reasons would take a large post, but Chinese web pages tend to be much more "busy", and Chinese language searches have a much higher percentage of "navigational searches". (If you search for [Facebook], you're almost certainly just trying to just get a link to facebook.com, and are basically using the search engine like a bookmark page.) I understand Google's need for a consistent U.I., but they really should have had a non-Google-branded U.I. that was better suited to the Chinese market.

When you say "Chinese market" you mean mainland Chinese market. Google does just fine in Hong Kong and Taiwan, while Baidu is completely MIA outside of mainland China even in markets with significant Chinese populations.

The Baidu front page today basically looks like the Google front page.

...the profit motive makes it okay! /s

It means that either Cook is CEO of Apple, or he isn't. Either way, Apple will still be in China.

The profit means Cook keeps his job

Google's phones aren't made in China? And is Google Play not in China? With Google I always wonder where the PR ends and the reality begins.

Google Play is not in China.

Their phones are made many places. Lately in Taiwan and Korea.

This is something I never understood. Google has this "do no evil" value and because staying in China involved compromising this value they left. The result is that the Chinese people are short one search engine as well as _any_ good that Google could have done. This seems ultimately more evil to me. It's good for Google because they can say they upheld their values, and it's good for the Chinese government because now they have one less external factor to manage in their control of information. Perhaps there is more to this picture than I am seeing but that has always been my view.

There's an ancient Chinese story where a farmer criticizes an official who exiled himself because the government is corrupt. As the fisherman departs he sings: "when the water of the river is clean I wash my hat in the river, when the waters are dirty I wash my feet in the river". What good can the virtuous official do living out in the mountains? Instead you should adapt your participation to the conditions of the playing field.

It's good for Google because they can say they upheld their values, and it's good for the Chinese government because now they have one less external factor to manage in their control of information. Perhaps there is more to this picture than I am seeing but that has always been my view

I don't see how they could have stayed in China and not been involved in things that are truly evil. When the government phones you up and tells you to hide search results related to babies dying from diluted baby formula (yes, this happened), could you in good conscience tell one of your engineers to add that filter? How could a company like Google possibly retain good people when they have to ask them to do the bidding of such an evil government?

Yes I agree, this is an angle that actually came to my mind after posting my original comment. At the end of the day there had to be Google engineers in China doing the job, real people actually implementing censorship. So if Google being in China meant that employees had to be involved in inhumane acts, I'm not surprised they would leave.

It's always about what one considers valuable. The Chinese government will block Google if Google didn't give them access and censorship.

Google could spend eternity fighting this until the government changes (ha), or pull our and upload their value of organizing the world's information without* censorship.

In your eyes, they are more evil for not bringing their products to China, in their eyes, they are more noble for making their anti-censorship* stance loud and clear.

Apple in this case can be viewed as doing good (assuming having an iPhone and access to Apple's stuff is good for people) or as putting money over censorship values. It's all about which angle to look from.

The world isn't hurting for search engines, mail providers or luxury smartphones. Maybe Google decided that fighting the Chinese government is not the right battle and allowing direct censorship is not a value they are willing to compromise on even if it means losing access to several millions of users

*Yeah, filter bubbles exist and Google controlling search results and ads can be viewed as evil but that's a different conversation.

You have articulated the conundrum of all "social justice" boycotts. I first encountered these arguments in the 1980s when universities and big corps were deciding how to engage with the apartheid regime in South Africa. The specifics are different, but the issues are the same. (I'm NOT equating the two cases. )

Here's some factors that could be a guide: What do the citizens themselves want? Is the boycott merely symbolic, or is it linked to other boycotts and pressure across a wide front, so that it is liable to have the desired outcome? Are the boycotters committed to long term pressure, publicity, and engagement with stakeholders in the other country?

> Google has this "do no evil" value

Former Google engineer here. There's a subtle but significant semantic difference between "Don't be evil" (the real motto) and "Do no evil" (a confusion between the Hippocratic oath and the Google motto).

Can you explain the semantic difference between being and doing in this context?

What I'm mostly interested in is how you can rationalize doing evil while not considering yourself as being evil. Is it based on the idea that you might do evil unintentionally or that you could be coerced into it? Are there other reasons for the distinction?

If Google has determined that censorship is evil, but an open society is a noble goal, then "Do no evil" would prevent Google from collaborating with censors under any circumstances. "Don't be evil" would allow collaborating with censors if Google believed that collaborating with censors was the fastest way to inducing a closed society to open up (or some other greater good).

Not Google-specific, but:

Do no evil = "No, we are not going to torture these prisoners of war, period."

Don't be evil = "It's OK to waterboard them a little if they deserve it. Remember, we are the good guys, we're here to help."

(See also: rationale for the My Lai Massacre. Very similar thinking, it's possible to excuse awful things when you're the hero(es) of your own (indoctrinated) narrative.)

Other reasons are because people are really good at rationalization and at cognitive dissonance. Google does plenty of borderline-evil stuff, but as long as they can shrug their shoulders and say "well, it's not like we're evil, just some of the stuff we do is" then apparently it's ok.

> The result is that the Chinese people are short one search engine as well as _any_ good that Google could have done.

One question: do they - Chinese people - even care? It's not exactly "good" - whatever Google could have done in such an environment - if you try to force it on an unwilling crowd.

> What would "sticking to their guns" involve?

Leave the apps in the app store and make the government make the next move.

They're fucking Apple, they can do a lot to help finally topple that mess. It's something that needs to happen in my lifetime, and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a company who otherwise trumpets about social justice to be a part of it.

They can't do a lot if the resultant stock crash causes the board to fire the executives. Executives call the shots but in publicly traded companies their continued employment is decided by the board (who represent investors, who literally only care about stock prices).

Really the big problem here are the constraints imposed on publicly traded companies, which I think do more harm than good in many cases.

I would imagine Google thought the same. If this was five or more years ago and Xiaomi did not exist, there may be more pressure from the people. However there is a good alternative to the iPhone and the government would probably just say take it or leave it. It would give the government the perfect excuse to ban iPhone and have their citizens use a home grown phone that would be more compliant to the government's wishes.

Then China blocks all Apple devices and services. In 5 minutes Apple is demolished in China.

So what’s Apple’s response? Close factories? That would disrupt their supply chain for years, potentially collapsing the company. All the cash in the world can’t retool and rebuild a factory overnight.

If anyone cares about this situation “for real,” you’d boycott every single Chinese made product because by owning a Chinese product, YOU are a hypocrite. You can’t expect Apple to stop selling to China if you aren’t willing to stop buying from China.

While you’re at it, stop buying from Mexico because elements of the government facilitate the execution of reporters. Don’t buy from Indonesia because they give the death penalty for minor drug offenses. Find me a country and I can find you something about which to be outraged. Even the “progressive” EU has enacted or attempted to enact laws abridging free speech. You can’t even print the word Nazi in Germany without facing potential criminal charges. As horrible as Nazis and neo-Nazis are, censoring their speech is STILL a violation of human rights. Free speech isn’t just that with which you agree, but it’s the expression of ideas – regardless of how detestable they may be. Germany sees Nazi speech as a threat to public order and perhaps they are correct, but in the same vein, China sees talk of Tiananmen or other such topics as threats to their public order. Should Google, Facebook and Apple pull outmoded Germany? Because it’s the exact same thing. We just happen to agree with censoring Nazi speech while we disagree with censoring “democracy-speech.” Both are censorship applied by a government due to a real or perceived threat to their systems.

Plenty of people here were willing to boycott US states over bathroom laws yet almost every single one of you has something you own made in China – a country with far bigger human rights issues than the hole in which one pees.

While pointing fingers at Apple, one ought to be pointing fingers at oneself as well.

« As horrible as Nazis and neo-Nazis are, censoring their speech is STILL a violation of human rights »

That’s only one interpretation of human rights.

Sanction based behavior is just another form a bullying. It's not much different than physical, psychological or social bullying.

Similar to bullying, it doesn't work when the target can fight back. Sanction based actions just seem like bullshit to me and is actually exactly what China wants. It gives space for domestic equivalents to grow. (the trick is to having your self created monopoly not rot is to keep it in its toes)

China for better or worse is becoming (is) a global power. It's the only country that is managing efficiently at its scale so criticisms fall flat. It's great for western indignation for them to feel-good about themselves. The realization that the previous bullying is no longer working creates the same sense of desperation and grasping for relevance that trump supporters have.

I'd rather the market make the decisions. Not because they don't have failure points but because they organically create understanding through mixing of values. The non-organic too down forcing of value systems doesn't work unless one party can effectively bully the other.

> What would you rather have them do? What would "sticking to their guns" involve?

Start building factories elsewhere. Help put together a similar manufacturing ecosystem in a different country. Automate their manufacture so much that it no longer matters if labor is done in China.

If Apple paid an extra 10-20% to locate factories elsewhere and started pulling out of China, it would be a gigantic hit to China while being only a 20% hit to Apple. And Apple could threaten China instead of China threatening Apple. And China wouldn't dream of making these kinds of requests again.

Apple has more leverage than they are willing to use.

I wish that happened. Not just, but all the other companies (including the clothing line owned by Ivanka Trump)

But Apple/all others wouldn't.. Because 20% profit.

Driven by our own capitalist agendas, we're the ones fuelling China after all.

> It's so easy to claim the West shouldn't do what the leadership of China wants in China, but in reality the only alternative is to abandon China to those who will do what they are ordered to.

That line of "reasoning" makes it a self-fulfilling prophecy, then.

(It additionally feels ethically unsound to me; the "if I don't do it, someone else will, therefore it's okay" — no, it's still not okay. And that's what people are upset about.)

Is there no chance whatsoever that large American companies could influence the Chinese government by establishing a market presence and then threatening to leave / alter it? This is what they do in the the US. I know that China is usually happy to just start their own Google/Facebook/Amazon/Netflix, so perhaps I'm being naive. As much as I cringe at American companies kowtowing to oppressive governments, it seems like exiting entirely is no strategy at all -- merely contrition in another form.

We've seen Chinese aspirational companies try and fail, eg: LeEco (Faraday Future, etc).

But Apple made it a company focus to court Chinese market. So they can't back down now. For some reason I've never really liked the Chinese government. They always come across as a benevolent dictator, they'll let you do business as long as you toe the line. Any inkling of freespeech or such ideas and you're out.

freedom of speech helps. where are grievances to this shitty policy aired to the govt by the public?

But it is still game-theoretically correct.

> If you don't agree to their rules you don't play in their sandbox.

And if you make choices they have consequences. Those consequences include that people in the west will lose respect for your company, complain about it, patronize competitors, propose laws to punish it, etc.

If that puts the company in a bind, good. They're a multi-billion dollar international corporation. They have to choose between morals and profits a thousand times a day. It should be as hard as possible for them to make the immoral choice. And if they make it anyway, it should cost them something.

Consequences and hypothetical punishments are not related to the actual behavior of the company but to its perception by the consumers. If the company can move the spotlight away or otherwise change the narrative, they can easily contain it. It has more to do with the limited amount of attention that can be given to any issue at any one time than with morals themselves.

You're arguing that from a realpolitik perspective, it may be more profitable for them to do the wrong thing and then spend money on PR.

What I'm saying is that that's the problem and what we should be doing is devising ways to thwart that outcome instead of forgiving them just because their betrayal was expected to be profitable.

You really think the mature thing to do is to cut off an entire country because you disagree with their political system? That seems very extreme to me.

You're proposing a false dichotomy. If the choice is to do evil or leave then they should leave, but is it? How sure are you that a company with thousands of employees and billions of dollars could not find a third way if sufficient pressure was applied on them to do so, instead of us excusing their defection as reasonable?

Nah, I don't think it is a false dichotomy in this case. It seems unlikely to me in the extreme that China is going to change its policies in response to pressure from some foreign company, even one as large as Apple.

More generally, I don't think describing countries & cultures that don't share your particular values as evil is reasonable or useful.

> Nah, I don't think it is a false dichotomy in this case. It seems unlikely to me in the extreme that China is going to change its policies in response to pressure from some foreign company, even one as large as Apple.

That is still a false dichotomy. They don't necessarily have to change the policy in order to render it ineffective.

Apple is full of smart people. They could think of something if they had to.

Others in the comments have already suggested that they could allow side-loading of apps, which would remove their ability to prevent people from installing VPN apps. So the choice isn't actually "do evil or leave", it's at best "do evil or open the walled garden", which makes the choice they made far less sympathetic.

> More generally, I don't think describing countries & cultures that don't share your particular values as evil is reasonable or useful.

Prohibiting VPNs is part of a wider crackdown on free speech and privacy. If "evil" means doing wrong, that is doing wrong. "The banality of evil" and all of that.

> Apple is full of smart people. They could think of something if they had to.

Funny that is the _exact_ same argument that politicians have made about secure backdoors in communication software for use by "law enforcement only".

> free speech and privacy

Why is that doing wrong? The causality is based in Western humanistic moral belief. You simply should not force your morals on other cultures and countries.

> Funny that is the _exact_ same argument that politicians have made about secure backdoors in communication software for use by "law enforcement only".

The government's argument is that we have the ingenuity to land a man on the moon, therefore it should be no problem to land a man on the sun.

You're arguing that because we can't land a man on the sun, there is no way to land a man on the moon.

The reason the government uses that argument is that it's generally true. Application of resources and ingenuity solves problems. Secure encryption back doors are in the exception box next to perpetual motion machines and faster than light communication.

Subverting censorship is not. People do that all the time.

> Why is that doing wrong? The causality is based in Western humanistic moral belief.

It is doing wrong because free speech is the best known method of preventing civil war. War being right at the top of the list of the most evil things in human experience.

And we're talking about Western beliefs because we're talking about Western people demanding Western values of a Western company.

Setting aside our debate about if free speech is an absolute, cross-cultural moral right or more of a trade-off with other values up to each culture to decide...

Apple itself is a long way from being the free speech crusader you are hoping for; in fact, they are clearly quite pro-censorship: just look at the App store. It's ridiculously censored! The refusals to approve the drone strike app Metadata+ and the Twitter-alternatie Gab strike me as particularly egregious. See also the section "1.1 Objectionable Content" of the app store review guidelines -- it's like stepping back in time to the worst caricature of 1950s America prudery and censorship.

> Apple itself is a long way from being the free speech crusader you are hoping for; in fact, they are clearly quite pro-censorship: just look at the App store. It's ridiculously censored!

This a "two wrongs don't make a right" type situation.

In fact, if the pressure from this could get them to stop doing that, all the better.

We need not cut them off. We behave ethically regardless, and if they choose to cut themselves off as a result that's on them.

>"The market is too large to leave."

Or stated another way "there's too much money involved to worry about ethics."

Yet Google left it and they seem to be doing OK. Apple could well afford to leave it too:


Google has to deal with some manufacturing issues related to their phones and tablets, but does not entirely depend on China for manufacturing.

Apple is overly-dependent upon Chinese manufacturing to have hardware at all. Leaves them beholden to Chinese rules, whereas, if they had manufactured elsewhere, China would have to deal with demand for a needed foreign product.

Now, however, if Apple pulled out, they would leave all that manufacturing expertise behind, and would face a lack of skilled labor elsewhere that they largely caused in the first place.

So, yes, ethics and money clash yet again, as money was designed to make happen. If they didn't pay people, a lot of dirty work wouldn't happen, and a lot of goods would be unavailable as a result.

If you tweet about ethics on a computer, chances are, that computer's hardware makes you complicit.

Yes, me too...

I didn't understand your Google hardware comment. Google search in China predates any hardware by years. Google search(Google China) is 2005 and the first Android phone, the T-Mobile G1 isn't until 2008.

Apple isn't dependent on the Chinese for manufacturing they are dependent on Foxconn, a Taiwanese company. And China wants Foxconn there. They greatly incentivized Foxconn to set up shop there.[1]

There's no reason Apple with its' hundreds of billions in cash reserves couldn't finance an "iPhone City" like China did in Zhengzhou and put it elsewhere.

And seeing how Foxconn is looking towards automation which isn't dependent on human labor, they could set it up an automated iPhone City anywhere, including the US.[2]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/29/technology/apple-iphone-c...

[2] http://fortune.com/2016/12/31/foxconn-iphone-automation-goal...

> Google has to deal with some manufacturing issues related to their phones and tablets,

No. It was way before phone manufacturing. China wanted to censor google searches but Google did not approve this so at the end they pulled out their servers from China and hosted it in Singapore.

The market is not "too large to leave". The company is making a choice to stay there because to them profit is more important than ethical considerations.

At the same time, the fact that the West generally doesn't care about ethics shows that the West is not necessarily a good model to follow. Maybe China has a better alternative.

Yuval Noah Harari wrote about this rather interesting theory that human rights only picked up steam all of a sudden because the industrial revolution created an economic need for a large class of educated and well-fed workers. We only value our current brand of ethics because it coincides with significant economic advantages. However, it's also important to look at the big picture behind your accusation. If the West truly did not value ethics, you would have been unlikely to have voiced your concerns in this way, since you would not have grown in a framework where these criticisms would be commonplace or even considered a worthy problem to investigate. The mere fact that you are making these observations means it's not so bad from an ethical standpoint. It shows there is already an ethical standard in place that is understood as a commendable ideal by most people, to the point where you can refer to it and expect people to know what you're talking about.

A company leaving a large market will be outcompeted by a company which doesn't; for companies, ignoring profits kills them. If it's anyone's job to respond to China's government, it's other governments', as they can take losses more easily but still not easily enough to get by without coordinated action (easier for governments than companies since there are fewer governments and new states don't form as quickly as new companies.)

I'd hardly claim China cares about ethics, either.

Yeah, that was really strange logic. A does unethical things, B doesn't prevent it therefore B is unethical... but hey maybe A is ethical?

Even if you do play by all the rules it seems likely that your business will be cloned by a local startup and then you'll get kicked out anyway.

The CPC is engaged in a very shortsighted strategy. They're doing everything they can to hang on to untenable growth numbers. When the chickens come home to roost there is going to be real trouble the likes of which we have not seen in living memory. The wealthy in China have seen the writing on the wall for a long time and are doing everything they can to exit before it's too late.

>They decide what goes in and how customers can use it. We don't get to decide anything without government approval.

Then how can anyone really say that they are doing business in china? When it's the government calling all the shots and taking the lion's share of profits?

What is a foreign business in china, besides a brand-on-loan-to-the-government (that they pay you for using)?

Of course you can leave China/choose not to enter China/be blocked from entering China and still be very successful, check what Google did 7-8 years ago. The same can be said for a long list of highly successfully American high tech and not that high tech companies, e.g. Facebook, SpaceX, Berkshire Hathaway etc.

The mentioned 52% or 51% ownership is nothing but protectionism. It is nothing different from Trump asking certain US products to be made in the US.

I suppose there are the questions of law and fiduciary duties.

If it's the law, it's the law. In China, it's the law to remove VPN apps. I suppose it's really not much different than the laws in the US that compel companies to give the government access to my information if they request such access. It's just the law, it's not really Facebook and Google trying to screw me.

All that said, I think what most posters are advocating is maybe for Apple to just leave China.

And, of course, that's where the other shoe drops...

with the question of fiduciary duties.

So yeah... I see your point... because of the legal issues involved, privacy and access can be tough problems. Not just in China or the US, but elsewhere in the world as well.

*EDITS for grammar

>I suppose it's really not much different than the laws in the US that compel companies to give the government access to my information if they request such access.

It is very different. Censorship with the main objective of keeping an unelected regime in power by suppressing free speech is not the same as any problematic side-effects of fighting crime and terrorism. Granted, there are some grey areas such as oppression of sexual minorities, but the distinction between political oppression and crime fighting should not be lost completely.

The least Apple could do is allow sideloading of apps.

Basically this. Apple's walled garden puts them in a position of power where their only choices are comply or leave. By contrast, Google could ship an Android phone in China with vpn features removed, ban vpn apps from the play store, and I would still be able to install a 3rd party vpn app.

"I suppose it's really not much different than the laws in the US that compel companies to give the government access to my information if they request such access."

No, in US the directive comes from court and even then the companies can deny the information if it is encrypted (e.g. like Apple did in San Bernardino).

I also do not understand the nonsensical argument everyday that if US does small x then it allows other countries to do big X along with big Y. What kind of logic is this?

A company cannot legally defy the court in the US.

They can only argue against a specific request it and appeal a ruling or an order.

As for the San Bernadino case it's not correct.

Apple has complied with the court order, they gave the FBI access to the iCloud Account. What they didn't do is to decrypt the phone but they were also not ordered too by the court.

If the court would have ordered them to develop a way to decrypt the device and they've lost all appeals they would've complied with that too.

For you the fact that something is law might tramp morality. Law vs morality is an ancient struggle[1].

[1] http://www.markedbyteachers.com/as-and-a-level/classics/anti...

> It's just the law, it's not really Facebook and Google trying to screw me.

There are bad laws, and then there are bad actors refusing to disobey bad laws, which is a quintessential civic obligation in the western tradition.

You can do buisness in china - and reinvest part of the profit via strawmans and donations into open source endavours to circumvent censorship, like meshnet endavours and TOR.

But of course, you could also just be a silent dictatorship supporter (seems like a natural view for a CEO) and hope that blind loyal fans & employees find good apologys for betrayal of core-western values.

And you dont get to pin this on cultural differences. Europe had 2000 years of kings, monarchs and other vermin- and after 2 WorldWars everybody basically had given up on democracy rooting anywhere there (maybe in britain). Its just european culture, to crawl under stomping boots. They need that!

Today, we got 60 years of peace and prosperity, with democracy and alot of freedom. So no- the partyline of ineveitability of itself, does not convince. Though im absolutly against violent unrest or violent transitions. I rather have china another 100 years under party rule, then supporting a violent uprising.

I'm so tired of the "if we don't do it someone else will" mentality. It's just flat out untrue. Not to mention you're basically supporting this type of government by doing business there.

I don't think apple leaving the market would have any impact on the Chinese government's decision process behind policies. There are plenty of Chinese brands that would love the decreased competition. The only effect it would have would be on Apple's sales numbers.

for large markets, it is true. the roles of google and amazon are being filled locally, in all their respective verticals.

for some niche market, maybe not.

>We don't get to decide anything without government approval


* How does the "decide" process and "approval" process work?

* Who is the decider? (What are their qualifications/bkgrd? (Are they ex workers of the tech sector in .CN that have xp in building all the things?

* What are the implications to cost/design/[whatever-i-dont-know-to-ask]?

* ELI5 'submission for approval' and 'time to approval'

* do .cn gov employees work/are-embedded-at any given company?

* is it as totalitarian as it sounds or is it efficient?

* what cut does the government take?

* Who is reputable in the US to ensure a product can get built in china?

Generally, doing business of any kind requires a license. At small scale, the rules aren't enforced very much, but when you get big or someone doesn't like you, they are. Since everything you do can be interpreted as illegal in some way, there's no defense, and there's no recourse, since the courts aren't independent.

About embedding of workers: local employees who are party members will organize a party branch inside the company. The more powerful internal party members you have, the easier it will be to be given permission to do things, get licenses, etc, so they'll gain committee seats and power. So you end up with an internal organization with power in your company whose allegiances are to an outside agency.

In my view something to consider is that the same large companies that are doing the Chinese government's bidding in China, are also free to do the Chinese government's bidding in the US. For instance they can buy political influence, manipulate markets, and so forth.

If they can't serve the interests of two societies at once, they will serve the society that exerts more oversight and control.

> You cannot do business in China without doing what they tell you.


> in reality the only alternative is to abandon China to those who will do what they are ordered to

So the only alternative to doing business there - which requires doing as you're told - is leaving China to only businesses that will do what their told. I'm assuming you didn't mean to say that so can you explain?

If they somehow decided to stop doing business in China, would that be grounds for Apple investors to sue Apple?

What would the investors sue Apple for? Now, a majority of investors could always re-direct Apple by voting at a shareholder meeting.

> the only alternative is to abandon China to those who will do what they are ordered to

Sounds like the "well, if I don't do it, someone else will" justification. Not the first time that has been used to justify an unethical action.

"I am objecting to this on the basis of forcing me to violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Perhaps this greased handshake will help."

What happens in China now could happen in 5 years in the rest of the world.

For "security" reasons or "fight agains terrorism", while it's really a fight between those in power and those who want power :-(

The need for IPFS, webRTC and other non-centralized protocols becomes more pressing every day, to defend everyone who is stuck in between.

Governments can outlaw those too. We need a p2p internet before it's too late. It doesn't have to be the fastest or the best. It just has to work well enough to bootstrap free access to information whenever the government tries to snuff it out. In Cuba they use thumb drives but we can do better.

There's a fundamental limit to what is blockable. Even if all strong cryptography is prohibited and all that can legally be utilised is a backdoored version, a steganographic option can be encorporated in a way that is mathematically undetectable - albeit at rather low bit rates relative to the absolute rate of the stream.

The problem for censors is that there is not such thing as optimal compression for a given stream, since the optimality of a given compression codec is a probabilistic function of all data streams that could feasibly be compressed with the given codec.

What do I mean by this? Inoptimality is fundamentally immeasurable (even when a more optimal version is feasibly calculable, it may be inefficient to utilise it due to the increased complexity involved in encoding or decoding - and the possible reasons behind any given encoding choice are indistinguisable from each other), so a sliver of a data stream could potentially be utilised to package encrypted data in a manner that is fundamentally indistinguishable from encoding inoptimalities.

In a world where a huge amount of out data is ultra-high bandwidth multimedia content couple with personal super-computers, crytographically indistinguisable steganographic communication channels of a more than useful bandwidth are well within the realms of feasibility.

That's technically true but largely irrelevant because it ignores the hard problem: if you're a covert agent supported by a major power, sure, you may have the opsec training and resources needed for that to be relevant but in most cases the question is not crypto magic but how it handles discovery, trust, and individual compromises.

You can have perfect steganography but as soon as a government informant says they got contraband data from you people are going to jail or worse. Similarly, all of the plausible deniability in the world won't help if they compromise your system and record you accessing that data.

Among other things, this kills widespread underground media dissemination because as the number of people increases the odds approach certainty that state actors will learn how to access it, and the risk to users increases constantly – how well do you really know the person who hooked you up with an invite code? Is the P2P node you're connecting to anything other than a honeypot? The hottie you hooked up with last night – really into you or just installing malware on your computers and mapping out your social network?

(Lest you think that's a stretch, consider e.g. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29743857 and ask whether the Chinese government is more or less concerned with activists)

Dissent against authoritarian governments will always be a game of cat and mouse - sometimes the cat will catch the mouse, there's no preventing that.

But I think that you're underestimating the power of the mathematics here in terms of the levels of achievable misdirection.

If the government gets into your unencrypted context you're pretty much fucked - I'll give you that - but it does not necessarily mean that anyone else is going down with you.

Let's say you have an unencrypted piece of data telling you that the XOR of the least significant bits of a multitude of data streams contains secret data and a descriptor for the next source node. Most of the data streams will be completely innocent. Even once I extract that data I'll have no idea where the contraband information came from.

This naturally further reduces your bandwidth, and you'll need the streams to contain content that non-dissidents have a decent chance of downloading together by pure chance to reduce suspicion.

There are huge difficulties - but that does not come close to meaning that nothing can be done.

A nation state doing traffic analysis will have people working full time to subvert the initial weak link of getting the software (which nobody else uses so simply possessing it will be seen as a sign of criminal intent) and keying information, doing statistical analysis to find why people have unusual access patterns to that innocent content and correlating people not known to be connected who are showing those same atypical patterns around the same time, etc. It doesn't matter if your source data is entirely fluffy kitten videos if there's a set of users inexplicably accessing the same set of videos in temporal or geographic proximity without a known link.

The other problem is trust: you said you'd have no idea where the key came from. Ignoring the high possibility of the state recording enough history to answer that question, the bigger risk is active subversion: using that software is evidence that you're trying to evade surveillance, which is risky no matter how warranted, and making those requests is clear proof that you're doing so. The hardest problem here would be detecting moles and honeypots: secret police distribute software versions which leaks your activity to them, distribute keys online and in person, etc. They're not going to arrest you as soon as you install it but will wait, possibly for years, seeing who else your activity links in.

Obtaining the software is hard, that is certain - but human beings have been successfully smuggling contraband for as long as there has been such a thing. And when you download the dozen specific fluffy cat videos, you don't just download that set - that would be fundamentally stupid - the set exists to mask the source, not to protect the receiver. The receiver would download a naively popular superset of the target set - you mask suspicion by hiding with the sheep.

Absolute trust is fundamentally impossible (the place where there is no darkness is a legitimate concern here). How do you even know that the public keys on your machines are true, that the hashes of your OS ISOs are not false, that every semblance of the assumption of security that you are working within is not simply a cleverly laid trap designed to lead you to naively reveal your hitherto hidden intentions?

Eventually, you just have to run with "fuck it, I'll do what I can to cover my arse - let the chips fall where they may".

The fact that it is fundamentally impossible to know the underlying intention of any foreign consciousness or computational context does not necessarily mean that none can ever be trusted, only that they can never be fully trusted - and that you should use whatever degree of caution you believe is justified for the given situation.

I think it's very risky to conflate different classes of threat. Yes, the state could suborn a CA but simply using SSL does not make you stand out. Using software which is designed to evade surveillance is by itself a bad thing to be caught possessing and unless it's perfect it will leave traces which will draw attention.

The problem I'm concerned with is the promise: tell people that something like this works and they are likely to trust it – at least until news spreads about other people getting caught by basic statistical traffic analysis. This is basically the Bitcoin anonymity trap: the marketing guys like to run around telling people it's anonymous and people often miss the distinction that any mistake will cause it to fail open with a full public history.

I'm a massive fan of decentralization and it seems that bittorrent has shown that it is resilient against oppression, while the magnet link hosting sites are regularly taken down, the protocol its self has shown that it can continue to thrive.

In this way it shows that decentralized networks are the way to circumvent oppressive people.

The on-going movement towards decentralisation is something to celebrate as is the transformation of users, slowly becoming peers.

The UK is already rolling out more and more censorship infrastructure for example. All ISPs have porn-filters enabled by default (which you can opt-out) and additional block lists that you have to circumvent through technical means (e.g. wikipedia was blocked due to the Scorpion's virgin killer album cover). Now they also want to expand those filters to cover "extremism".

+1 the USA and UK are definitely on the path of governmental control of content/privacy on the Internet.

A bit off topic: I am in the USA and it surprises be constantly how most of my friends and family buy into American exceptionalism. Mostly, they don't travel much to foreign countries so they don't realize that the USA is one of MANY great places to live. The world for the most part is an awesome place but the news media convinces people otherwise. Re: China: even though China has problems with internal ethnic violence (source: I took an online class in English covering history, economics, and politics taught by three professors in China) my impression of people in China when I was there is that they are generally happy with their society. It is not my place to tell other people what form of government they should have.

Just on a positive note - HTTPS has done wonders BC it destroys any granularity in censorship. For instance BC English Wikipedia isn't blocked you are able to look up any topic and authorities have no way of knowing which topic you've looked up.

They could block all of Wikipedia ofcourse, but it'd be overly draconian, hard to justify and people would be upset (though itll happen eventually. They're working on a wikipedia clone right now)

Wikipedia (also apparently expressvpn.com) is already blocked in Turkey, and I am indeed very upset about it, but there's nothing I can do about it and I think it'd be the same with the Chinese. Such oppressive governments really won't mind denying their citizens access to the single greatest source of information for their citizens if it plays into their hand.

could you please stop representing 1.4B Chinese? if the government is so bad, why there is no systematic resistance given the fact that Chinese people had a long history of fighting the repressive regimes?

Fear of the Government that is even in your pocket?!

As someone who grew up in the East Block, reading such naive comments as yours leaves me divided. It's good on one hand that you've never came even close to an oppressive government so not even your imagination allows you to grok. On the other hand facing the development in the world, it's quite concerning.

> As someone who grew up in the East Block

so you grew up in the old communist eastern bloc, and you want to blindly compare what you suffered back then to what is happening in China now?

I didn't grew up in communism, I grew up after the 1978 reform in China. My entire extended family work for the private sector with my closest family members running their own successful private businesses. Did you guys have that in the eastern bloc (not east block)? I got Internet connection back in the early 90s and I have been openly posting comments on Chinese forums criticising some of CCP's policies for the last 20 years. They didn't give a sh!t about it and I never got myself into any trouble. Can you guys do that back in the eastern bloc days? Starting from my middle school, they have been teaching me that the market economy is the only viable solution, they encourage the best students to study in western countries and offered numerous benefits for that, e.g. a long list of tax benefits if you study in the west and go back to China later. Did your eastern bloc "motherland" encourage you to do that?

The eastern bloc failed for an obvious reason: communism. Chinese killed that rubbish back in 1978. Learn something.

First: congratulations to you for not being one of those who have to suffer in your country! You must be so proud. Do you think with this wage inequality in your country, you are representative for the Chinese population?

> I got Internet connection back in the early 90s and I have been openly posting comments on Chinese forums criticising some of CCP's policies for the last 20 years.

I don't know what you have been criticizing there or how but you are aware that your government puts even artists in jails for "criticizing" are you? Why do you think they force Apple to take those VPN apps down if free speech is no problem?!

We also have those people moaning up to today how good it was because back then in socialist utopia, they just needed to know the right people or be in the party. Everything else worked for them then. Today they have to face real competition, rules and regulations. They fail now and therefore tend to support other radical parties that may bring them their former benefits back. This is why you see so many of those methods and ideologies coming back on the right in former East Block countries. So no...it's not about socialism. As bad as it was. It's humans, power, influence and money.

And no my eastern block motherland did not encourage me to exploit western countries education systems so I can learn how to exploit/manipulate the economic system too and come back afterwards. The best (or wealthiest, most influence see above) were able to go to Russia though and we were not so brain washed due to the lack of the media flood so people who left, stayed in the West. In the end the system broke apart and Democracy and the Free Market replaced it. Learn something.

> Chinese killed that rubbish back in 1978. Learn something.

Well...good luck on your next election then!

You make it look like your country did not become some scary undemocratic thought police thing. There is a reason why you don't write "free market economy" as anybody else from the west would in such a glorification speech. You depend on a illusion of economic stability just like the socialist systems back then. The only difference is now that because you've been the sweatshop for the rest of the world for so long, the world thinks it depends on the continuation of the show. We'll see how that will work out in the end. Your government doesn't think it will end good or it wouldn't implement those crowd control mechanisms and make people disappear who may cause critical thinking in the first place

You are correct, the PRC doesn't care that much about nobodies venting on web forums. People like you pose no threat so you are ignored.

Now try organising something to act on that criticism, like people in the West can do. You'll suddenly discover that it's very different.

And yet using a VPN is still somehow "against the will of the people" ...

You'll notice the same usernames and patterns of argumentation every time there is an article with comments remotely criticizing (or even questioning) China.

Some quite interesting "opinions" on that ones comment history.

There are honestly a lot of similar patterns of argumentation, attack, deflection, and amplification that I've noticed across these platforms whenever China is mentioned; as a native Chinese speaker, vast populations of Chinese internet communities and social media services are pretty unreadable to me because you see the same dozen arguments by Chinese netizens unfolding over and over again. His/her assumption that my response is attacking "free speech" is a pretty common response I see, where any attempt at discussing or criticizing Chinese policy is redirected toward some aspect of liberal democratic values, regardless if the original commenter is a "westerner" or whether or not it even fits in the context/scope of the original question.

From reading through some of the China threads you came upon, I'm not really sure if you are really familiar with the concept of "free".

you = he

...it was late.

So far, most of my comments regarding those "criticizing/questioning" China stuff are mostly about the censorship/GFW, because I strongly believe the GFW is a protectionism tool to protect and grew the Chinese Internet sector.

Am I allowed to have my own opinion on that matter when I am a Chinese living in China working in that sector? Maybe your definition of freedom/free speech is a pretty censored one?

> the GFW is a protectionism tool to protect and grew the Chinese Internet sector.

How do you reconcile this belief with the following:

1) The GFW blocks sites and content related to dissident groups and individuals in China, such as Xinjiang and Tibetan independence groups.

2) The GFW blocks sites and content related to Falun Gong.

3) Personal VPN usage will be blocked.

4) Many foreign news sites are blocked.

1. illegal organisations by Chinese laws.

2. illegal organisation by Chinese laws. btw, they spam my mobile all the time, it is pretty rude to call someone's mobile 5-6am on a weekend morning to play prerecorded message like "CCP is bad, they jailed many Falun Gong members".

3. "will" is a very interesting term. Posting here using VPN, let me know when it is actually blocked.

4. I read CNN/BBC/Foxnews quite often, they are not blocked, no VPN required.

> 1. illegal organisations by Chinese laws.

>2. illegal organisation by Chinese laws. btw, they spam my mobile all the time, it is pretty rude to call someone's mobile 5-6am on a weekend morning to play prerecorded message like "CCP is bad, they jailed many Falun Gong members".

I'm not sure what any of this has to do with the belief you stated in your OP:

>> I strongly believe the GFW is a protectionism tool to protect and grew the Chinese Internet sector.

> 3. "will" is a very interesting term. Posting here using VPN, let me know when it is actually blocked.

From CNN[0]:

> Beijing said in January it would restrict virtual private networks, or VPNs, and this month reportedly told the three big telecoms companies to block individuals' access to them by early next year.

Companies are already pulling out of the VPN market in China. You might be familiar with this given the thread we're replying to.

> 4. I read CNN/BBC/Foxnews quite often, they are not blocked, no VPN required.

Le Monde, WSJ, NYT, Reuters, The Economist and TIME are blocked[1]. The NYT and BBC have gone through periods of being blocked and unblocked over the past decade.


[0] http://money.cnn.com/2017/07/25/technology/china-vpn-censors...

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Websites_blocked_in_mainland_C...

no one ever denied the fact of internet censorship in China. the point is that the biggest impact of GFW is the block of sites like Google/fb/twitter and its largely for protectionism.

blocking WSJ is bad, really bad, but let's be honest, how many Chinese would be reading WSJ? 0.1%? Sure, that 0.1% still counts, they should be allowed to read WSJ or Reuters, but it is not remotely comparable to the impact of blocking, say, youtube. how many Chinese would be watching youtube? I'd argue hundreds of millions could be watching.

With all these numbers in mind, and the fact that there are highly popular replacement services in China for every single one of those blocked one like google/fb/twitter, you tell me what is the primary goal.

it is also worth pointing out that blocking WSJ/Reuters and similar web sites are bad decisions, but blocking Xinjiang/Tibet independence movement sites are totally different matter.

What reason is there to block information about illegal organisations? Is information about ISIS blocked?

To be fair, we censor a lot of content distributed by such organizations.

Well maybe you shouldn't use a locked system then. There are enough and better alternatives and always have been.

It's not like this is a surprise at all. People have warned about this for years but the fan base and the cool design were stronger. I'm pretty sure there will be no uprising in the western Apple community about that at all.

there isn't going to be a technical solution to the problem of terrible world governments, the only real solution is going to be to change the governments.

In democratic countries, at least you have that possibility. Elsewhere it might not be possible at all. Nationwide censorship and surveillance are probably pretty effective technical “solutions” for preventing change.

Why are they different things? Isn't, on some very fundamental level, the act of changing the governments a "technical solution"?

As corps/IC agencies/.mil's around the world tighten the nooses around the population, it will only empower people to engage in similar behaviors.

Who's to say one can't technically compromise and take advantage of AmaGoogAppBookWeiTenUbtakte infrastructure and use it for any ends, in similar ways corps/IC's agencies/.mil's do for their ends?

After all its still hardware and software with flaws like anything else.

Looks like I won't be owning any Apple products in 5 years then.

But they still have the built-in VPN client in iOS, don't they? As long as they don't block this particular feature in China, I don't see that as a big reason for panic.

PPTP and L2TP are blocked, we mainly use Shadowsocks. And what Apple did is removing apps that provide Shadowsocks local client. e.g. Surge, Shadowrocket, Potatso‏...

It should be noted that using a non-china based iTunes account still allows you to install vpn apps and run the app inside Chinese borders...

But The Great Firewall could and sometimes does already block all VPN traffic so it would not be any use.

If the VPN actually works the app might still be useful. It is a game of cat and mouse between the government and the VPN providers.

> What happens in China now could happen in 5 years in the rest of the world.

China? This has been happening in the US and Europe for years.

Look how heavily censored all social media is now.

I understand that we all at HN know about the media censorship, but when you are trying to convince someone who disagrees, some evidence would be very useful.

Depending where you live, there are likely laws prohibiting communication in public about sexuality (think graphically explicit pictures where accessible to children, think non-standard sexual expression), politics (think inciting hate against groups of humans and calls to kill them), culture (think sharing a song you really like with your peers), and many more.

You might say that these restrictions and censorship is okay because you agree with the given reason. But exactly like that, people in china might agree to the reasons their government is giving them for their censorship. Who is right?

Just common sense, given that the China gobertment has made usage of VPNs illegal.

What do you expect?

People in China could continue using app store accounts created in other countries as usual.

And most educated people continue using VPNs too. Normal people are becoming experts in encription, security...

It worries me more that countries like the UK and the US want to follow China, in that order.

I expect Apple to respect universal human rights regardless of the context. Freedom of speech is foundational.

And this isn't a China-vs-the-West thing. The idea that people deserve and need to be able to communicate freely predates the current governments of both China and the U.S.

Apple has never been pro-free-speech. They have historically censored people in their marketplace from distributing software that disagrees with their political views. For example, they would not allow software that provides factual information about abortions and where to get them in their marketplace -- while at the same time they would allow software from "crisis pregnancy centers"[1] that frequently lie to women and make incorrect claims about dangerous risks of abortions.

It boggles my mind that anyone could think Apple is somehow a vanguard of free speech. Their iThings are jails, they restrict what software you can run on them and they are the final arbiter on what software is allowed. What aspect of that is in keeping with free speech?

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crisis_pregnancy_center

It's been known for years that Apple is actively against freedom of speech when it comes to its marketplace. Why would you expect it to make an exception for China ?

Apple probably has more incentive to hold onto that fat margin China provides with their labor -- don't want to anger the Chinese gov't.

Freedom of speech only applies to the government. Apple can keep whatever they want out of their store.

Why is this downvoted? It’s a factual statement. Freedoms of speech (in the U.S.) is that Congress shall make no law..

A radio station that refuses to play my song or let me talk isn’t violating my freedom of speech.

Facebook censoring “hate speech” is not violating freedom of speech. Hate speech is protected speech under the U.S. constitution. (Before anyone brings up Schenck v. United States, that case ruled that speech that present imminent danger (yelling fire in a crowded theater) was not protected, but hate speech doesn’t generally reach a level of immediate danger.

So if we are to criticize Apple for curating their store, we must criticize Facebook for curating their platform. We must also crisis Google for their curation of advertising content as well. Because unless hate speech says “kill <some group> today at 5pm at the local market,” it’s broadly protected under the U.S. constitution. What that means that practically every single company in the U.S. is guilty of “violating free speech” – IF they were the government, but they are not and thus aren’t violating anyone’s right to free speech.

Because no one was talking about the United States or the Constitution. Freedom of speech is a broader concept than just what is set out in US law. In fact the conversation was quite specifically not about the US and not about that formulation of freedom of speech.

It's a business after all and China is a huge market for Apple.

No one ever said that capitalism was very aligned with human rights. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Why bring up capitalism here? The censorship isn't capitalist. Apple could be a non-profit employee cooperative and still be aiding in censorship to comply with local laws.


This problem was clearly created by the Chinese government so it's probably not the best thread for a tirade against a libertarian strawman.


That's a very particular view of history. The USSR was distinctly not capitalist and it's citizens starved to death in massive numbers. China had the Great Leap Forward.

It's a straw man because nobody here thinks poor people deserve to starve to death. In fact my capitalist job allows me to pay taxes and support charities for feeding, clothing, and sheltering the poor.

The phone market isn't exactly open. There is more or less a government chartered oligopoly in mobile data industry. Those companies were leveraged to create the initial consumer lock in that Apple enjoys now. Interoperability without Apple's consent is also possible but it's a government chartered monopoly on technology (copyrights, patents, bans on circumvention) that prevents that.

All that being said, you're talking to straw men here. Most died in the wool free market types still see a role for the government in preventing market abuse, including fraud, monopolies, insider trading, etc.

I'm not saying it's open. But clearly capitalism doesn't lead to solutions of all problems ever, as evidenced by this.

But then a right winger will visit Shanghai, talk to a bunch of happy Chinese and make a YouTube video where he says that in China everyone is happy and rich while in EU your daily life is a struggle against Calais EuroTunnel stowaways or something.

The only thing that allows China to do all these is political will of the people in countries that enable it. Somehow North Korea doesn't get a free pass but China does. As long as people value cheap products and ruthless 'capitalism' and 'free market' (if you can even call China that with all the governmental interference) more than rights of ordinary (i.e. not ones in central Shanghai) Chinese this will keep happening.

So what do you want Apple to do? Leave the China market and allow a government owned phone company to take the market share? How is that scenario better for anyone in the US or China?

I mean being angry that the Chinese government isn't great at human rights is one thing, but to point that anger at Apple is a bit misguided, and what do you suggest that would actually make the problem better?

I don't know. That's why it's even a problem. If there was an easy answer then Apple would just do it (or not) and there would be no discussion or dilemma to be had and we'd all applaud them or shit on them depending on if they did the right thing or not.

It's a very tough problem because on one side isolating is bad and allows the oppressive governments to create 'us with them' rhetoric and replace foreign companies with domestic ones that are absolutely subservient to them, on the other, abandoning your original principles and showing that you can be part of 'the West' (products and services wise) without accepting any of the Western values is also bad.

Many people here suggest allowing side loading apps, maybe that's the answer. It'd allow some people the freedom to use iPhones with VPN but also allow Apple the plausible deniability. And Apple's walled garden approach is also criticized for other unrelated reasons so it'd help with them too.

You also have to consider China is a sovereign country with their own laws and culture. Who is Apple (or the US for that matter) to dictate what those laws or cultures are? Consider the US has many laws and practices that are considered human rights abuses domestically, much less abroad. Among these is the practice of solitary confinement, police allowed to withhold evidence during interrogation, overreaching sentencing, privacy abuses, etc.

All I'm saying I guess is don't make Apple out to be a bad guy because they can't wade through that mess. I wouldn't expect them to. One thing is they seem to care more about secure devices than any other tech company I'm aware of. They aren't perfect by any means, but they've shown that they are willing to put their neck out with the San Bernandino thing and others.

There is culture, justified censorship (of extremism for example) and then there is hiding what government did during Tiananmen Square incidents and hiding the transgressions of the CPC and twisting or destroying pre-communist Chinese history, culture and religion.

No one is telling Muslim countries to show women hair or telling Singapore or China to unban porn or Europeans to stop enjoying football and enjoy baseball. But if a country's culture includes censoring actual genuine political criticism then perhaps western culture should include not dealing with such countries or undermining that part of their 'culture' whenever possible.

All of the things you mentioned as possibly wrong in the USA are very widely criticized domestically and abroad and debated (the efficiency of debating against people who justify for profit prisons and inhumane treatment of prisoners and so on is completely separate matter of course) and not censored so they might actually change in the future and even if the government attempts censorship is some roundabout way it blows up in their face with even more attention to the issue.

Meanwhile Chinese government wants to use censorship and related powers to cover CPC and governmental abuses and misuses of power, attack its neighbouring countries with propaganda and so on. And people consider this largely okay.

>Meanwhile Chinese government wants to use censorship and related powers to cover CPC and governmental abuses and misuses of power, attack its neighbouring countries with propaganda and so on. And people consider this largely okay.

But they are a sovereign nation, it's their country and their laws and their army. I mean if other countries did it to the US because their values differ from our values, like say, getting Trump elected, you wouldn't think it was such a good idea right?

Also, take that down the road and we start souring relations with China? Where does that lead? Two nuclear powers shouldn't be antagonizing each other, and I believe telling China how to run their own country is part of that.

I'm not excusing what China is doing, but honestly, why does the US presume they have to fix it?

I'm not American and I hate Trump actually. EU and USA should start calling China out on their abuses more together.

China has also swore to only use their nuclear arsenal for retaliation (for what it's worth). And China and Pakistan antagonize India (and vice versa) more than any kind of political message ever could and they are all nuclear powers with shared borders.

I don't believe in absolute sovereignty where a government can do anything it wants to its own citizens and be free from even criticism or reduced business as the result. Other countries are also sovereign and should be free to not support China in what they do.

The argument about sovereignty is also largely invalid by precedence when it comes to China and USA and EU too, EU doesn't export drugs for death penalties, USA has a history with South America, Middle East and China/Taiwan disputes, EU and USA both called China out on organ harvesting from executed prisoners, etc.

This isn't about the government but about a single company vs. government in this case. I have no idea what Apple could do. Some people say - allow apps sideloading, another could be preemptive protective censorship (if I were in China I'd rather have Apple tell me I f.d something up with my message before anything leaves my phone than have the message be sent, caught by the Great Firewall and land me in a labor camp). I don't know, Apple has smart people, they should be the ones figuring it all out and put their money where they mouth is with respect to freedom, free flow of ideas and so on. Apple is one of few (only?) un-Chinese phone brands popular in China, all of the others are running customized android or something, are Chinese brands, subservient to the government, more easily influenced because they are based in China, staffed by Chinese, directly under Chinese law and within the CPC's reach, etc.

Apple has very privileged position due to their placement in the USA and recognition. They can try to stretch it, not just roll over and remove VPN as soon as China asks, what they did is literally the easiest and simplest solution, far below them. Due to their location they aren't easily attacked by the Chinese authorities at their own HQ, their top staff is American and thus values freedom of speech and free flow of ideas (unlike Chinese company staff back in China that might agree with government due to education/propaganda and never hearing anything wrong about it), their brand is the only one with such penetration, Chinese already have their own phone vendors that enforce censorship much stronger, they are a recognized brand and when they are gone it'll be very visible and might raise red flags in the upper middle class of Chinese who could afford their products, etc.

Also: As I have already spent a lot of time on this and don't plan to reply anymore and we might be reaching top comment depth I'd like to thank you for the good in depth discussion to get the brain going. I'll consider your arguments and adjust my future views and actions accordingly.

How exactly would they help respect it?

Their choices are, as far as I can tell, to either remove certain apps from app store, or to face the app store blocked entirely. I wonder what servers their customers best.

It's hard and unpleasant to conduct business in a place where laws are at odds with what you believe is right. But when it's lucrative enough, you may choose to shut up and comply.

They could stop blocking sideloading, for one. That way they could comply in name but keep the block ineffective.

> I wonder what servers their customers best.

It sounds like that point can be accurately rephrased as, "We're censoring you, but we did some soul searching and we think it's for your own good."

> "We're censoring you, but we did some soul searching and we think it's for your own good."

There certainly aren't any souls waiting to be found in the earnings report.

There are actual people that make these decisions. C-level executives or some sort of committee.

Not that I necessarily agree with this decision, but:

"The version of Article 19 in the ICCPR later amends this by stating that the exercise of these rights carries 'special duties and responsibilities' and may 'therefore be subject to certain restrictions' when necessary '[f]or respect of the rights or reputation of others' or '[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals'." (Wikipedia)

Freedom of speech can be limited even as a universal human right.

> Freedom of speech can be limited even as a universal human right.

They are inalienable rights because it's wrong to limit them, not because a group voted to recognize them. The ICCPR's position is interesting to compare and contrast to what is right, not because it's the authority on what is right.

In the end, any and all rights, inalienable or otherwise, are arrived at by consensus, not extracted from the binding fibers of the universe.

The western tradition does in fact hold that, in some form, the binding fibers of the universe are the guarantor of certain rights.

That's the entire basis for the US Declaration of Independence.

Yes, and China is not really part of that tradition.

Valid first principles aren't subject to tradition.

In less abstract terms, the case is that abridging speech, especially political speech, is dehumanizing, inherently subjective (therefore unjust), a key tool for tyrrany, and harmful on the whole. It also reduces accountability by limiting the availability of facts and investigations.

None of that says anything about democracy, capitalism, or the West.

And yet, there are clearly potential upsides to abridging free speech. As an example from the Western world, in Germany, hate speech laws are used to forestall the spread of harmful ideologies. I think it's common for people in our corner of the world to believe that abridging speech changes nothing — that people will still believe whatever they want to believe behind closed doors — but I strongly suspect that shaping discourse in a society will gradually change the way people think and behave. Curbing hate speech will make people less hateful; promoting communism will make people behave more communist. (For better or for worse.) Must ethics begin and end with the individual? What if enforcing the structure of society for political/religious/philosophical reasons is collectively deemed more important?

Now, I wouldn't necessarily want to live in a society like that, but it seems to me that "valid first principles" is just a fancier appeal to authority. I'm sure the Chinese would roll their eyes at grand proclamations like this.

Everyone has first principles. There are things everyone thinks are heinous regardless if the context.

The freedom to call for genocide isn't a fundamental right. The freedom to criticize leadership is.

Finally, there are upsides to lots of unconscionable things. At one time, slavery was a cornerstone of the American economy. The question isn't whether there is an upside. The question is whether it's right.

Absolutely - the Asian legal tradition is very different. But you said,

> any and all rights

...and I'm just pointing out that there's a robust philosophical framework, including the stated basis for common law traditions such as the US, Britain, Canada, etc. which does characterize rights as being as fundamental to the universe as particles.

UK is the surveillance capital of this planet [1]. PM May expressed readiness to "tear up Human Rights"[2]. UK is the enabler of Chinese CP leadership, not a follower.

[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/19/extreme-survei...

[2]: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jun/06/theresa-may...

The UK has been a leader in developing internet censorship for over 20 years; it's never been just one party or government.

When certain big network equipment companies (this was before Huawei cloned everything) responded to criticism for building the Great Firewall of China by saying they were only supplying off-the-shelf gear already in use in the West, they weren't lying.

Only the past 10, maybe 15 years - the worst damage has all been in the past 5 years - but you're right about it being both parties: under Labour we had RIPA and the wet-dreams of "Wacky Jacqui" Smith - which in turn enabled the the Tory gov's implementation of these regressive legislation.

The problem is how the UK cabinet is arranged and the politically powerful role of Home Secretary - where the job description is a license to dream up, campaign for, and implement the most effective means of "keeping the country safe". Quite unfortunate.

Long-term change would only be effected by having the role's description framed in the context of keeping the UK - and its freedoms - safe. It's a subtle change to the oath of office, but would hopefully prevent the recent abuses we've seen. Universal mass surveillance is fundamentally incompatible with our right to privacy.

No, more than 20. Sometimes, the slope actually is slippery.


That is incredibly alarming. I follow UK news with great worries about internet freedom, freedom of speech and human rights in general. I don't understand how the population allows this??

Because no one cares. Or people who do are in minority. I've had discussions both in real life and online with people telling me they don't understand how I can be against surveillance, it's meant to fight pedophiles and terrorists, so of course it's good,right?

In general, in 7 years of living in the UK, it is definitely my observation that British people in general trust the government to do the right thing. They were not brought up with an ingrained distrust of authority like people from some other countries were - not everyone is happy with the government, but people in general belive that the law is the law and if something is illegal there is a good reason behind it and they don't need to get involved too much.

This level of political apathy and lack of interest in their own country is really shocking at times.

It's true that this seems to be the majority sentiment, in spite of things like a ban on completely harmless sex acts in porn (such as female ejaculation or spanking). This is clearly repressive government action against a sexual minority as we are talking about consenting adults here.

What surprises me more though is how people can be so confident that their data is safe with the government. There is a long list of failed IT projects and incompetent handling of computer security by public organisations.

Even if everything the government wants to do with our data was justified, there would still be a very valid concern about this data eventually ending up in the hands of organised criminals.

I wrote to my MP, switched ISPs to a (more expensive) one whose stance aligns with mine, and took up the other citizenship I have access to. I am deeply concerned about the views of some of my country's leaders. But ultimately, moving countries would be a big cost, and I don't think anywhere else is significantly better? The status quo here is: leaders talk an anti-free-speech game, propose outrageous unimplementable measures, what actually gets done is at most a trivial inconvenience. Where could I move that would have a firmer commitment to free speech, privacy and the like? US? Canada? I don't feel like I'd be a lot better off in any of those. Maybe Germany but I feel like they're drifting into the restriction-of-speech direction after their migrant issues.

What I expect them to do is this:

1) Put up as much of a fight as possible, just as they have done in the US.

2) Allow sideloading of apps.

Regarding 2)

Can't you install your own (self-compiled) apps on your own iDevice these days with a free apple developer account?

That could work with an open source iOS client that people compile themselves.

You don't even need that. I remember all you need was the source code and Xcode. Of course that's assuming if you're running open-source or your own solutions

Doesn't that require a Mac?

cydia impactor

"And most educated people continue using VPNs too. Normal people are becoming experts in encription, security..."

As I'm not familiar with China or its (native) people, I have no grounds to refute the statement above, but is it really true ?

My experience is that a large number of people in the West ("educated" or not) are barely interested even in the information and news that are readily available to them, and mostly concern themselves with sports, gossip and entertainment.

I find hard to believe that most people in China are using VPNs and taking risks on a daily basis to access "uncensored" information, I'm sure that there are quite a few that do, but I'd be surprised if it's not a relatively small minority.

There is no such mentioned risk for using VPN. I am posting here from Shanghai using my VPN. It has been going on for more than a decade and I couldn't name any single person who got arrested/charged/or even questioned for using so called "illegal" VPN.

It's well known that the government there is in the process of systematically blocking VPN usages. This is causing issues in academia at least, along with other segments of society that got used to"opting out" of the firewall and now find they cannot.

> gobertment

Curious and slightly off topic. Was this intentional or just a typo?

In Spanish it's more or less pronounced like this.

My business has an AWS China account and below is the email I received on Friday. It is definitely a crackdown year, on several fronts even other than the internet. Like this year I was forced to pay a $300 fine because I didn't report to the police station within 24-hrs of re-entry while living in my own leased home. Now, my company is not huge but I've employed +100 people and we pay a lot of taxes, social insurance, provide jobs for local families. They do not give a shit about that you will follow the laws of China to do business here or you will be thrown out.

Overall, this year has really chilled my enthusiasm for getting too comfortable with the thought of living here the rest of my working life. In this age with so many elite Chinese being trained and educated abroad, it is really hard to beleive things are going in this directon. I mean, IT Is already hard enough, we need a server in our office that is connected to another server in France, and we need it reliable and without issue. Making this type of stuff even harder on us as a business is really irritating. I really do tell myself every day "if it was easy everybody would be doing it".

"Dear Customer, According to the telecom regulations and the requirement of MIIT/MPS and Internet supervision agency, please check up two parts below. • The illegal “over the wall” proxy sites and provide hosting campaign service for illegal “over the wall” proxy sites. • All main domains which don’t have ICP recorded number via MIIT and All websites which have illegal content. We will continuously receive notification from the regulators to close such services or shut down server deployment immediately. In case your will be involved in any consequences of such violation, please stop immediately if you have such illegal services and deployment. Thanks for your understanding and cooperation.

Regards, AWS China (Beijing) Region operated by SINNET"

Hey Timmy, what was all that talk about customer security?


And here I was, almost believing you.

This is arguably worse than if they had done nothing at all to supposedly protect user privacy. Now it's clear that Apple was just playing the crowd to win sales.

Why should we even believe that they aren't covertly cooperating with the FBI?

That's hardly an Apple-specific issue though. I'd argue we shouldn't trust any corporation -- like Google, Amazon, Facebook as well -- and assume they are in bed with the agencies from the get go.

You don't need their closed app store. Free workaround:

• apply for a free Apple developer account,

• compile your own copy of https://github.com/mtigas/OnionBrowser or https://github.com/yuyao110120/ShadowVPN-iOS and

• install it on your own iDevice

You get 10 days before your app stops working and you have to do it again. It's a real pain in the butt.

Where do you get that from? Creating app with your own dev account can run on your device for more than 10 days...

[Update] ok I just checked the limitation of the free dev account, and yes because of certificates it is only valid for 7 days... I was thinking about the regular $$ account.

It is idiotic that you can't compile and install something on a device you own.

I would pay a large premium for an iPhone that came jailbroken.

But you can?

When it was first introduced it was longer. Apple then cracked down on that and made the limit more restrictive.

If you build in the ability to censor, you can't disclaim responsibility when a state makes you do it. We'll see the same sort of thing in Russia, the UK, and so on. Apple can still act, if they wish, by not locking down their users. I know that'd be a big step for them.

That is the most important comment here. Tim Cook, you have inherited the rules of the app store, but by now it's clear that with good sand-boxing, we wouldn't need any of your control mechanisms. If you would relinquish this control, one billion people could exercise their human rights. Mister Cook, tear down this app store wall!

To be clear, "ability to censor" is basically just having an app store. Companies can decide what they'll include in their store, which means governments can also regulate what they're allowed to sell (or block the app store altogether in that country).

That doesn't mean app stores are inherently evil; they still do a lot of good by making sure people can easily find and pay for high-quality apps.

As you say, a reasonable alternative would be to allow side loading of apps, so that people can find and load apps distributed via various peer-to-peer ways, without Apple being responsible.

To be clear, what you mean by "having an app store" is "reverting 40 years of established software usage best practice and downgrade to dictatorial way where a central company can control everything".

Words have power. "App store" sounds up-beat, friendly and inclusive. But the rules behind what Apple has established that "App store" actually means are anything but.

Apple didn't invent the app store and weren't many mobile phones before the iPhone (running J2ME or whatever) even more restrictive?

Also, Android doesn't restrict side-loading in this way so I disagree that restricting side-loading is an essential feature of an app store as commonly understood.

No, phones before the iPhone running J2ME had side-loading. Some carrier turned that off, but if you bought directly from the manufacturers you got a phone that you could control and do anything with by yourself, without any third party stopping you. Manufacturers felt confident that their J2ME sandboxing stopped apps from doing anything evil.

I feel like you didn't really answer my point, though. I criticize you for using an upbeat word to make a dictatorial system sound good. And you counter by talking about something entirely else, word definition and word history.

Yes, a curated app store is a great option to have.

It's been said that the app-store-only model is not basically different because you can still buy an unrestricted competing device. I kind of agree, but that's sort of like saying people in China can still decide to move to another country. The cheaper such options are, the more weight to give such an argument. Most people aren't going to carry two phones around.

What a despicable joke of a country. And shame on Apple for aiding them while they made such a massive deal of user rights in the US.

In America, they're still free to openly complain about American policies. Try that in China and you'll be gone before the week is over and a state-sponsored company will take your place

Complaining is the opiate of the masses.

> In America, they're still free to openly complain about American policies.

You can complain only about those, that are inconsequential, or won't change anyway. Otherwise you could be labeled with miscellaneous labels and maybe also beaten at someplaces.

Different countries, different laws... what did you expect?

Balls? Integrity?

Respect of inalienable rights.

They also require a paid developer subscription to get access to the Network Extensions capability (needed to build a VPN protocol extension) in order to make sure people who develop these apps can't just provide IPA files for normal users in China to "sideload" using tools such as my Cydia Impactor.

So they go out of their way to prevent users to avoid censorship by themselves on their devices?

This from the company that removed the headphone jack from their phones while crowing about the "courage" involved in making the decision.

I'm not going to pretend to believe that Tim Cook's letter (cited elsewhere) was much more than a PR move in a country they were unlikely to face any substantial consequences for (at least publicly) standing up to the government, or that I really believe that corporations have a responsibility to protect basic human rights (though it would be nice if they did). Still, it'd be nice if corporations didn't try to have it both ways and maintain an image as a courageous force for good when it was convenient while washing their hands of responsibility for any actual action when it became difficult.

Aren't they forced to follow Chinese laws when doing business there? Not saying what they did is moral but it seems the moral question here is whether they be doing business in China, not whether they should be following the laws while doing business their because they don't really have a choice once they decide to do business there. Google for example doesn't do business there so they don't have to respect censorship laws.

There is no such thing as "once they decide". Once you notice that what you are doing is immoral, you have to revise previous decisions.

Also, it's not that cut and dry: If your product actually contributes to the wealth of the country, they cannot just ban you without hurting themselves. Just because they legally can, does not mean you don't have any leverage.

Could Apple really ever decide to not do any business in China - could they extract their phone/computer business without affecting their manufacturing business?

Without access to Shenzhen and Foxconn, it seems like it would be a literal corporate suicide.

Well, I don't know--but given that Foxconn is apparently planning to open a factory in the US, I would suspect it shouldn't be all that impossible?

Also, do you think that China doesn't care about unemployment and exports? I mean, Foxconn is not a charity, they are effectively an exporter of a part of the value of Apple products, and they employ people building Apple products, if they kick out Apple, that money will most likely go elsewhere and employ people elsewhere.

The unemployment from Foxconn's closure wouldn't really make a dent, and would go away pretty quickly. Opening up access to information would be hard to reverse later without facing the same argument with Apple as before. The only reasonable solution is to not yield to Apple.

Hu? How exactly would the lack of export of the work of half a million people "go away pretty quickly"?

Also, noone is talking about opening up anything, just keeping the access that already exists, which they are obviously trying to "reverse" right now, apparently successfully ... and you are saying that cannot actually be done?

I am not sure I can follow your argument?

How many of Apple's devices are manufactured in China? The Chinese Government could completely cripple Apple in a second. It really isn't Apple that has the leverage.

Censorship is fundamental to Chinese government policy. It's totally non-negotiable. You either do as they say, or you don't operate in China. No negotiation, no compromise. Given the manufacturing situation China has Apple by the short and curlies, and Cooke knows it.

So, you think china doesn't care about unemployment?

Also, there is no such thing as "non-negotiable". Everything is negotiable, if you are able to offer something of enough value in exchange.

If you think Apple has anything valuable enough for China to abandon its principle means of social and political control, I think you're sadly mistaken.

Yet somehow Google manages to make phones and not cooperate with China.

Google also doesn't violate Chinese censorship or data disclosure laws, which apparently is what it's being suggested that Apple do.

Of course Google do this by not operating in China at all any more. But what is being suggested is that Apple at least threaten to violate Chinese law or attempt to apply pressure to the Chinese government. Even Google didn't try that when they did operate in China, because frankly they're not insane and they had employees in China, and presumably didn't want any of those employees gracing the hospitality of the Chinese police force.

By outsourcing manufacturing to HTC, LG, and Motorola...

Fyi, Google does do business in China. They have offices in Beijing and Shanghai at least. Their phones are most probably also manifactured in China which is pretty big business.


> unlikely to face any substantial consequences for (at least publicly) standing up to the government

Well, they could take a market hit if customers find out they've been acting contrary to their words.

The percentage of iPhone/Mac users that care enough about VPN in China to switch to Android/Windows wouldn't even be a rounding error.

But apparently there are enough people who care about privacy for Apple to market to them, and they could lose those as customers if it turns out that marketing consisted of empty words.

Apple follows the law while sending lawyers to do the work necessary to block censorship.

How do the law work in China? Is it even possible to block censorship?

A misconception about China is rule-of–law.

I bought my first iPhone this year. No headphone jack but the phone included very nice earphones than use the thunderbolt charging port.


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