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Apple CEO backs China’s ‘open’ Internet vision as censorship reaches new heights (washingtonpost.com)
319 points by tonyztan 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 310 comments



Tim Cook wasn't invited for his beliefs, but to give face to the Chinese government.

Chinese internet is as closed as it gets. Any foreign company eating up the market share of a local company will get blocked eventually or be forced into merging into a local entity.

For now it really is open in one way : Chinese companies are welcome to compete in the whole world, but China won't let you be a competitor of the local companies

Cook is "forced" into this monkey dance because he's deeply entrenched into the Chinese market. He only has little leverage : the jobs he creates in China and the money he makes there.

He has to comply to local laws, even though it interferes with his own point of view because lots of money is at stake. He can't say it in this conference


> He has to comply to local laws, even though it interferes with his own point of view because lots of money is at stake. He can't say it in this conference

Isn’t it the same reason why most of the corrupt people do what they do. There is a lot of money on stake for them and they decide to close their eyes on the corruption around them and actively participate in that vehicle.

Cook is doing exactly the same, he is putting money in front of his moral principles.

If he is so vocal about freedom or whatever, he should take a stand and do something at least in his own company, if his board or investors are pressuring him - he should quit or do something about it, because right now - whatever he says about fighting for freedom is just a complete farce.


If you're looking to public for-profit corporations to, of their own volition, take some sort of ethical stand, you're going to be disappointed more often than not.


So we shouldn't hold anyone accountable? Just give up?

Yesterday Hackernews talked about how Apple was just focused on making money and they should ignore any moral implications, today we are supposed to feel compassion and understanding for poor Tim Cook? It just sounds like everyone has Apple as their idol and they can't do any wrong.


I'm just saying that there is always this idea that companies will do the right thing out of the kindness of their hearts when in reality they usually need to be compelled to do so. That's why, for instance, they passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act instead of kindly asking companies to stop bribing foreign governments (not that that is bulletproof.


We can, but you end up as signal within a vast amount of noise (Gandhi's "first they ignore you" phase isn't always passed).

If you eventually do get contact it will end up with a kind of theatrical act where we are acting that they should care and are being heard, and the CEO may end up acting as if he does care. Perhaps even with more than mere actions.

Maybe he even cares as a human being (if he doesn't -> psychopath), but with his CEO hat on he certainly does not.


> Maybe he even cares as a human being (if he doesn't -> psychopath), but with his CEO hat on he certainly does not.

Aren't CEOs and managers even trained to think that way in business school? For instance the "shareholder value maximization" idea, which teaches the sole responsibility of a corporation is to make the most money it can for its shareholders, and damn everything else.

That's a problem the Chinese have managed to avoid, even if it's been in a corrupt way. It seems like they make the local companies prioritize the policy objectives of the authoritarian government ahead of absolutely maximizing the profit interests of their shareholders.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shareholder_value


  So we shouldn't hold anyone accountable? Just give up?
What's needed here is a coalition.

If N companies pulled out of China and it didn't liberalise, they've incurred a cost for no benefit. If N+1 pulled out and it did trigger China to liberalise, they'd benefit from doing it.

The trick is finding the N+1 companies and convincing them they're enough to be the trigger.


> If N companies pulled out of China and it didn't liberalise, they've incurred a cost for no benefit. If N+1 pulled out and it did trigger China to liberalise, they'd benefit from doing it.

> The trick is finding the N+1 companies and convincing them they're enough to be the trigger.

It seems like China has been pretty successful at preventing the actual dependence on foreign companies needed for that strategy to have its indented effect. For instance, if Apple pulls out, Chinese who can afford an iPhone are just going to have to settle for a Huawei.

The only chance I see is a general reduction in trade or foreign-driven manufacturing hurting the overall Chinese economy, but that would take a lot of companies to accomplish.

https://9to5mac.com/2017/05/23/iphone-market-share-gartner-q...


The funny thing is, not doing this is just kicking the can down the road. Chinese companies with their protected access to the gigantic and prosperous Chinese market, will eventually be "good enough" to crush all others, across virtually all markets.


I mean it's probably more effective to make it more painful for them not to act than to act.


It's less straightforward than you're letting on.

China is slowly, slowly liberalizing. The trendline is towards more civic freedom, less inhumane practices. If they started to do something destabilizing or genocidal, that is the time to pull out.


Not really. If anything it's the opposite. They're clamping down on Hong Kong ahead of schedule and Xi is going in a more authoritarian direction. I think China is actually demonstrating the fallacy of our idea that as a country develops it has to become a liberal democracy.


Yeah, they played the West. The Communists got what they wanted (technology transfer), while keeping everything firmly under their control.

> I think China is actually demonstrating the fallacy of our idea that as a country develops it has to become a liberal democracy.

I don't think that's necessarily been proven a fallacy, the idea that liberalizing China would be simple and automatic certainly has been. The Chinese Communists aren't stupid: they've been carefully studying things like post-Communist Russia and the Arab Spring in order to avoid mistakes that might cause them to lose power. If China liberalizes, it will take a unique path that the Communists probably couldn't see.


Things in China are dramatically better than they were 30 years ago. Yes they played the west wrt techology, and we should have hit back harder after Nortel got nailed, but overall Chinese people are more knowledgeable about the world around them and their middle class would never put up with the types of things that Mao got away with. Harmonizing HK with the rest of Chinese policies doesn't really change my mind.


Economically things have been liberalized. Politically they have not. This has worked out OK for a lot of people (although it must be said others have been left behind), but it is not really the model people predicted for China.


China is officially the largest national economy after the United States. Seems like a lot of development has already happened.


Were you responding to a different comment? I was writing about political development, not economic.


Then what political development do you mean?


"When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don't consider the bloody" return on investment, Cook said.

http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-ceo-tim-cook-companies-...

Ultimately of course, these things do have a return, even just in PR. How Apple operates in China has some effect on its US sales and market position... so I guess Tim has to play a careful game.


It's easy to not consider ROI when one's talking about investment with non-negative gains strictly under your control. If you have money to spare, making your devices accessible will not reduce your profits, and there's a chance it'll increase them.

OTOH, pissing off China could mean huge losses for Apple, and that makes it a different story altogether.


Exactly. Even if Cook stands up for his (or our) ideals, the pressure China is going to apply to Apple will result in Cook getting ousted by the board, replaced by a favorable "Cook".

Companies (for profit or not) answer to their major stockholders. Even politics in a (democratic) country (EU or U.S. or X, place possibly your country where X) follow a similar mechanism: politicians conform with the wishes of the major coalitions that will keep them in power. Sure one can leave footprints of their ideals, but after some threshold they are intrinsically bound by their power base (usually lobbying).


I think the point many people are making is that "I will be replaced by someone willing to do this morally reprehensible job" is not an excuse for doing the job yourself, as that 1) increases the pool of people who are willing to do the job and allows more bad things to happen and 2) as people are not purely replaceable, it isn't clear that the Board of Apple will be in a good place to find someone as competent at supply chains as Tim Cook to replace him... particularly someone who is both competent and willing to play with China.


Cook realized that his board or shareholders would fire him for getting Apple locked out the Chinese market (both for sales but also for the manufacturing). Not an easy position to be in.


> Cook realized that his board or shareholders would fire him for getting Apple locked out the Chinese market (both for sales but also for the manufacturing). Not an easy position to be in.

They could conceivably diversify their manufacturing base, but that's a longer term strategy. Given Apple's reputation for control, it's conceivable that they're not as dependent on the Shenzhen ecosystem as your typical manufacturer. It doesn't have to be domestic US production, just not China.


Is a sarcastic way of framing this then: he is taking from the Chinese and giving it to the blind?


Which is why I find a joke to force employees to do some kind of company values training, with certification, because in the end they get thrown out the window the moment the money sings, regardless of how noble they state "better loose a deal that give up on the values".


Thats the wrong way to look at it - Its not that value training stops the world from being as it is.

Instead imagine a world without even the lip service necessary for value training.

In other words consider an unfettered race to the bottom.


Agreed. We should expect governments to take ethical stands not for profit companies that only care about profit. Unfortunately western governments are also being totally hypocritical when it comes to China.


You act as though business is this totally seperate thing to life. Business is some fancy legal words wrapped around the activities of groups of people. Saying businesses are only driven by profit is not fundamentally different from saying "employees and shareholders of Apple are greedy people who put personal gain over the moral principles of our society"


It's a practical point of view, not theory of society. It's great when companies put morals over profits, but they generally don't - companies don't gain much from being good and don't lose much from being evil; the impact is not big enough to offset the importance of being effective on the market. Companies that fail to be effective get outcompeted and die.


In the shorter term they are likely to face pressure from investors if they're doing something like taking a stand that shuts them out of a huge market like China.


Organizational dynamics frequently lead to organizations behaving in a way that their members probably would not conduct themselves in their personal lives.


Hypocracy is a bikeshedding dimension. China and the US both serve the politically-connected first and the people last; China does it by force and the US does it by manufacturing consent. Regardless of political system, the people must rise up and demand a fair government and insist on sensible regulations and justice with eternal vigilance. Power never cedes anything without a fight.


I think it's getting carried away to say there's no different. The US isn't quite what we'd like it to be, but you will not be kidnapped and charged with a trumped up crime for running a book store that sells books critical of the United States government. Noam Chomsky remains a free man.


Companies only care for profit inasmuch we allow them to do so.

A couple laws would deal with the problem quite rapidly but we first need to get this social-darwinistic neoliberal ideology out of our collective arses...


What are the proposed "couple laws" that could help here?

I fail to imagine how laws can convince a profit-maximizing entity to stop behaving like profit-maximizing entity.


Well, just off the top of my head - IANAL not an economist - but it would suffice to change by law the set of stakeholders that have a legal say on the company and you’re done.


Yeah! For example, the government could become a stakeholder in all companies to ensure that the populace's interest is taken into account in addition to profit... wait a second, that's what China's doing


> jpetso: Yeah! For example, the government could become a stakeholder in all companies to ensure that the populace's interest is taken into account in addition to profit... wait a second, that's what China's doing

What kind of stupidity is this? The Chinese government is an authoritarian oligarchy and doesn't give two shits about "ensuring the populace's interest." It cares about maintaining its power and control.

I think you need to cleanse yourself of your free-market straw men. It's not a bad idea for there to be more stakeholders in control of companies than just the shareholders. For instance, you could split the board between shareholders, employees, and customer representatives. That's not a radical idea either. IIRC, German unions have long had seats on their employer's board of directors, see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codetermination_in_Germany


Yeah, why not... corporate has a powerful influence in the Government's decisions about the populace's interests, I don't see why not formally establish reciprocity.

Besides, in Germany Unions such as IG Metal _do_ sit on the Board.


I don't know how practical that is as a solution to social ills, but whether China is doing it or not doesn't really make it good or bad.


Yes, that's true. What I wanted to point out is that a good idea in theory can quickly turn into an instrument that's being used for other purposes.

China is a great example to be studied in this regard. Their changes do indeed ensure that profit will only be one of several considerations for company policies in China; this will undoubtedly result in more consumer-friendly corporate behavior, but it also tightens central control and is likely to deepen the kind of censorship measures that I personally would not want to wish on any person or company.

Letting all people (of a given country) have a say means involving the government in which the company's headquarters are located. I'd rather not have national[istic] interests working from within companies, I feel laws and regulations are better suited to get a fair & transparent outcome.

The German model that the sibling comment brought up is quite sane in comparison. It limits the stakeholders to only those who actively participate in production, which provides a kind of decentralization enforced by laws, but not directly steered by central interests. In terms of overall benefit to society, it's hard to argue against that model and it has served the Germans well. (However, it's also worth noting that having unions sit on the board doesn't prevent the company from making unfavorable decisions outside of the limited national and workplace-environment-related interest of the extra stakeholders, and often those changes can only be deferred / slowed down but not outright avoided.)


I am not sure. I think the problem there is that the Chinese government is actively involved in enterprises, like censorship, that most of us would agree the government shouldn't be doing. I don't think it's anything inherent to the idea of fully or partially state-run enterprises (especially when you consider how many services have been degraded upon being privatized).


That's because corporations don't have volition and don't take actions. People in them do. And the responsibility remains with those individual people.


As long as there is a correlation between reputation and profits, there is leverage to shame them into behaving properly.


thanks for pointing the obvious!

Now you are going to say that the world is also full of criminals?

oh my god! who would have thought?


It doesn't seem to be that obvious to everyone.


> Cook is doing exactly the same, he is putting money in front of his moral principles.

Put it this way, if Tim Cook acted the other way as you wanted, he simply wouldn’t be CEO anymore; the board would have him promptly removed. You can’t head up a public company and leave that much money on the ground.


Then he should not tell other's how to fight for freedom and accept free "expression awards" for his human rights advancements [1], if he can't lead by example being scared that his ass will be on fire. And remember, he has only money to lose, so he puts money above his beliefs.

[1] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDFyuPxAkqE


It’s not his money to lose, it’s Apple shareholders’.


I think I'm getting tired of the word "shareholder" most of all.... if companies make all these greed-driven decisions because of them, let's do away with holding shares. (Lots of further thought to be had there.)


Put it this way, do you want Tim Cook making idealistic decisions with your retirement savings? Do you mind losing 80% of it because you don’t want them doing business in china anymore?


> Put it this way, do you want Tim Cook making idealistic decisions with your retirement savings? Do you mind losing 80% of it because you don’t want them doing business in china anymore?

That settles it then: dystopian miasma it is! Can't let morality or ethics stand in the way of a small number of my dollars[1].

[1] Your 80% figure is totally bullshit. Only an idiot has 80% of his savings in Apple stock and Apple does not do 80% of its business in China. It has manufacturing elsewhere and so much cash that I'm sure it could quickly ramp up whatever production capacity it needs wherever it needs it.


Again, it isn’t his money. It isn’t his savings, it’s yours. People are all high and mighty about other people’s money, but shut up when it’s their own.

Apple doesn’t care so much about making stuff in china as it does sells stuff. It is their second biggest market, quickly becoming its first, and is very profitable. Taking china out of Apple would remove probably 50%+ of its market cap, Cook would be put in an insane asylum by his board very quickly.


> Again, it isn’t his money. It isn’t his savings, it’s yours. People are all high and mighty about other people’s money, but shut up when it’s their own.

Again, ownership and stewardship of money isn't the highest good, and shouldn't be the compass that we use to guide all of our moral and ethical decisions (checked only by bare-minimum legal compliance).

Your logic is the same kind of reasoning that could easily be used to justify abusive sweatshops, child labor, and worse.

You also assume too much: some of this money is my own, though that's irrelevant. I'll be high and mighty about anyone's money if it's being used to prop up something unjust.


How does one determine should or shouldn't? If we are looking at the factors that Cook will actually be judged upon that he cares about, which is his ability to make money for Apple shareholders, then he is doing the right thing. He is lying, but in doing so is gaining positive PR which increases people's opinion of Apple and thus their willingness to buy it. This is what he should be doing.


Yes, the problem is far beyond Cook and it is systemic. People with no investment in the actual work, culture, employees, or purpose of the company (the board and shareholders) are the ones with control over the business. This fundamental disconnect between the people with power and the people who actually do any real work (called capitalism) pushes companies to behave more and more monstrously with no repercussions because "well that's just how it is" -- but that doesn't have to be how it is. Would google employees vote to help authoritarians crackdown on the people in China? I doubt it.


I wonder how many CEOs Apple could run through before the damage to their image hurts the bottom line more than not appeasing to the Chinese government.

Of course we'll only find out if multiple people individually discover their backbones and forgo personal profit to take a moral stand, and I don't think that'll happen anytime soon.


You are assuming most people care what Apple does in china, and I can garauntee you they do not. I’m a china critic myself and I’ve seen lots of stuff working for Microsoft there. Let’s be realistic: if consumers judged Apple for what they did in china, then something might change, but beyond a very small fringe, that doesn’t happen.


Didn't Google leave China a few years back, doing exactly that?


Google left because their main business is collecting information about people to sell them ads later, China did not allow that - thats why they left, they did not leave because of their great moral stand.


That isn’t true at all. First, China allows collecting similar info about people as in the west, and all the Chinese internet companies do it probably more aggressively than their international counterparts. Second, google left china (search market) because the Chinese government was hacking gmail accounts to root out dissidents.


Google left because China hacked them: https://www.google.com/search?q=china+google+hack


you mean the company named google that literally pay no tax to countries where it is making big $? check news, countries like UK and Australia were forced to come up with google tax to fight such criminal offences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_tax


Any source to back up this claim that China wouldn't allow that? I find it hard to believe.


Any source about China not allowing collecting information?


Google was getting their butt kicked by Chinese competitors, namely Baidu. They weren't exactly making tons of money anyway. So they gracefully did a PR move and pulled out of China.


Google surely wasn’t as good as Baidu in scamming terminal cancer patients with the help of the PLA.


Going by that logic, it should even be more easier for Apple to leave China. They are also getting their butts kicked by the local Chinese firms.


Apple makes a lot of money in china. Much much more than local Chinese mobile phone producers. Huawei might sell more phones than Apple, but their margins are slim to negative.


The only reason Cook would be vocal about being a freedom fighter is when its in his interests as CEO of Apple. Cook is a servant of the shareholders; not the US public or Chinese public. Their goal is to increase Apple's profit margins & volume ("profit"), not to increase liberty among the US, or spread liberty across the world. He's CEO of Apple, not chairman of Amnesty International.

I don't understand why people keep confusing the two as if CEOs are some kind of philanthropists. They're not. They're egocentric maniacs who represent their big business. That's what they're trained for, and what they're good at. See also the documentary The Corporation. IMDB's summary [1]: "Documentary that looks at the concept of the corporation throughout recent history up to its present-day dominance." or Metacritic's summary [2] "This feature documentary analyzes the very nature of the corporate institution, its impacts on our planet, and what people are doing in response."

Also interesting is the correlation between CEOs and psychopaths [3].

[1] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379225/

[2] http://www.metacritic.com/movie/the-corporation

[3] http://time.com/32647/which-professions-have-the-most-psycho...


I think people confuse the two because of the perceived doublespeak. In general, people accept that a CEO's responsibilities are to the shareholders, no arguments there. I think the disconnect comes from speaking publicly about the importance of freedoms but then complying with Chinese censorship. If you're going to comply, which they have every right to do as a business, don't provide lip service about the importance of openness and freedom of information, individuals, etc.


So you're saying Tim Cook should throw away whatever leverage he has to change these things in order to appear valorous?

Maybe what Cook has said about freedom is a complete farce. Maybe it isn't. Taking a stand against the Chinese government might win him points on HN, but not with the Chinese government. And at the end of the day, they make the call on whether they'll tear down the wall or close the gates.


If he's not willing to "throw [them] away", and the Chinese know that, they aren't leverage.


I didn't say how much leverage he had. Though whatever privacy focused technology they manage to get away with under the watchful eye of the party is still a win on the freedoms front. End-to-end encrypted imessage, secure enclave, etc. And he still gets to consort with the Chinese to whatever degree he is able to.


It is simpler to think of anything said by a CEO as being a complete farce. They are doing what makes the share holders money, and if they aren't, they won't be a CEO for long. They'll be exceptions, but the accuracy rate may be at tolerable rates without accounting for them.


except that his job is precisely only to make money for his company


True, but he has taken personal stances in the past while representing Apple the company. If you believe that the only role he has is to make money for his company, then you have to disregard his previous personal statements as nothing but PR. He can't have it both ways.


That's a very lazy excuse for something.

Also, his job is to preside the company. That involves keeping manpower happy and productive. Keeping public opinion in check. And also, making a profit.


China is just playing with the short term vision that is so foolishly characteristic of western companies. The Chinese know that CEOs need growth prospects for the next quarter, even though their actions are impairing the company in the long run. Of course, whatever money they make in China will be at the expenses of their long term IP, technology and market share.


TLDR; Cook said “The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said, in widely reported remarks. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”

To me it looks like Cook is telling a kid who is being bad "thanks for putting in effort and let me work with you to be good". You can interpret this in many ways.


>He has to comply to local laws, even though it interferes with his own point of view because lots of money is at stake.

He has to? What are you saying here?

What good does it do for him to be very good and have a very righteous point of view, if he does not actually do anything about it. Then sure, sign me the fuck up. I'm such a good person I would even, oh I don't know, I would even sell everything I own and give it to the poor. Unless you actually ask me to do that, in which case I will say "I can't do that, that would cost me a lot of money". But hey, it's the thought that counts, I'm still a good guy!

In short, bullshit on that whole argument. He has no principles. Just like any other private company, his one objective is maximising profit. Moral considerations don't enter in the capitalist framework.


> Cook is "forced" into this monkey dance because he's deeply entrenched into the Chinese market. He only has little leverage : the jobs he creates in China and the money he makes there.

> He has to comply to local laws, even though it interferes with his own point of view because lots of money is at stake. He can't say it in this conference

If this were the case, then he could just not show up. I think the lack of principle here ideally should be reflected in their revenues, but somebody has to convince the public that buying in to Apple, is now the same as buying into in to the CPC.

Does nobody realize that the CPC has found a way to merge the two most sinister impositions, government censorship and social censorship, into one despair/tyranny manufacturing device?


So much for that theory about protectionism not working because other countries will retaliate in the same way. Apparently they won't if they're run by people that worship the free market.


> Chinese internet is as closed as it gets. Any foreign company eating up the market share of a local company will get blocked eventually or be forced into merging into a local entity.

> For now it really is open in one way : Chinese companies are welcome to compete in the whole world, but China won't let you be a competitor of the local companies

Not that Baidu has any foreign market-share, but this seems like something that should prompt a tit-for-tat trade-policy response, even if it's in another area of trade.


> even though it interferes with his own point of view

uhm, no? you're pushing what you want, what you hope his point of view is unto him.

however action talks more than words and as far as we know, as seen here, his point of view that money trumps morality and truthfulness and he'll say whatever his role at Apple demands him to say, both to government and customer, playing both sides for as long as people like you let him a free pass.


considering the heap of money Apple sits on they could just as well leave China. The WTO certainly doesn't hold much sway over China and saying Tim Cook is forced is nonsense, Apple is doing this for money and to hell with any "moral" positions they have, money comes first.

So either we accept that they are governed by the dollar or not. Their values only matter in countries where they can take a non risk stand.


What do you mean by 'leave China'?

Do you mean it stops selling its products in China? Or stop assembling iPhones in China? Or both?

According to this page (https://www.macworld.co.uk/feature/apple/where-are-apple-pro...), 'the assembly of Apple's devices is for the most part done in China'.

If Apple leaves China suddenly, I don't think it can build that large an assembly line quickly to satisfy the global demand of iPhones.

And according this document (https://www.apple.com/newsroom/pdfs/fy17-q4/Q4FY17DataSummar...), half of Apple's Q4 2017 revenue come from iPhone. So, if the supply of iPhones is greatly reduced, the cash Apple sits on will quickly run out. Then Apple will be in great trouble.


Building the actual assembly line is the least of their problems, it's just money and Apple has it by the truckload.

The bigger issue is finding enough skilled people for the factories, China is pretty much the only place in the world with enough trained workers in the scale that Apple needs them.


"Any foreign company eating up the market share of a local company will get blocked eventually or be forced into merging into a local entity."

Can you provide an example of a foreign company that was willing to comply with Chinese law, but still faced this outcome?


Being willing to comply with Chinese law is the catch to your question. Being willing to comply, means you're instantly put into a weak, disadvantaged state versus their domestic entities who get to play by an entirely different set of rules.

Disney can't even own their own park in China, they have to be a minority owner. So they build a nice, very expensive park, Disney Shanghai, and get 43% of it. That's the world's largest, most powerful media company, forced to beg on its knees just to get access to build in China. That tells you everything you need to know about how accessible China really is.

How's this for an example of how Chinese law works for outsiders? Jack Ma stealing tens of billions of dollars from Softbank and Yahoo, by taking Alipay away from Alibaba shareholders without proper compensation and without shareholder voting. He gave it to himself, discharging it out Alibaba and into his own hands, with complete disregard for what the ownership percentages were of Alibaba. It's one of the greatest thefts in world history, and these other large corporations were powerless to do anything about it. Ant Financial / Alipay of course is a critical piece of Chinese technological infrastructure, and is likely to go on to be worth a couple hundred billion dollars over time. For example this Wiki quote:

"In the fourth quarter of 2016, Alipay had a 54% share of China's $5.5 trillion mobile payment market"

That says it all about the extraordinarily vast scale of that theft. No chance China was ever going to allow Softbank and Yahoo to have such a big stake in that. So they looked the other way while Ma robbed the bank.

What outside technology company possibly trust being in business with Chinese tech companies on anything important or valuable to the Chinese economy after something like that? They'll just change or ignore the rules at will. I liken it to Jeff Bezos choosing to give himself most of AWS, discharge it out of Amazon.com's ownership structure, and not compensate the other Amazon shareholders for it. It'd be like Bill Gates granting himself Windows LLC, removing the product from Microsoft circa 1994 without shareholder compensation, and reaping tens of billions in additional gains that should have gone to Microsoft shareholders.


> That's the world's largest, most powerful media company, forced to beg on its knees just to get access to build in China.

Nobody is forcing them to build in China, disney just wants to make more money for themselves, so China can do whatever they want since it’s their land. If Disney agreed to this terms - it only means that it’s still profitable for Disney.


Of course China can do what they want with their country. You're standing up a point I wasn't challenging in the least.

The issue is: China is barely an accessible market for even the most powerful and largest of international corporations. Their rules for domestic entities are dramatically different than the rules for foreign entities, which is an intentional effort to restrict foreign competition and access to their economy. China wants to have its cake and eat it too.

Developed economies will increasingly shut down China's access in the same manner as China does, ending China's free ride. That process is already well underway with the US and Western Europe, as both have begun blocking China's ability to acquire local companies and technology. China will find it increasingly difficult to sell higher value products into the US and Western Europe (by far the two wealthiest economic regions on earth), restricting potential economic expansion for China.


It does seem like they have found a very effective "short term" strategy that will have a lot of trouble succeeding as their markets reach parity with ours.

Then again, maybe they're ok sacrificing long-term global growth to increase their domestic situation to something comparable to Europe or the US, at which point it won't hurt as much...


Wow, I had no idea Ant Financial was not part of Alibaba's main entity. Where can I learn more about this? I've done some work in China (even integrated Alipay/WeChat pay into an app) but had no idea this happened.


Facebook

Zuckerberg is all ready to comply and multiply his attempts to get closer to the Chinese government (look it up), but stays blocked.


The dude even learned Chinese (mandarin?).


It's so. much. worse.

http://www.worldtribune.com/archives/chinese-president-snubs...

https://www.quora.com/Did-Mark-Zuckerberg-really-ask-Xi-Jinp...

> In China this privilege is nominally given to the father or grandfather of the child. Asking a complete stranger, albeit a famous one to name your child is unheard of.


He even got his wife chinese didn't he ? (i know he met her previously)


Ew, cringe!


Which company's market share was Facebook 'eating up'?


Check out Mark Kitto’s story for the ‘original’ example of this. To modify the original sentiment, it’s more like ‘any foreign company doing well in China will eventually be forced into a corner by unfair state aid to its competitors’


Uber, WhatsApp


Uber lost the battle against didi, so was forced to merge with didi. Just a loser case.

WhatsApp never entered into China market, never register as a company in China, so how it could follow the regulation?


That's exactly the point for Uber: they lost against a local company, because the government did everything it could do so that didi would win the battle.


What did the government do?

I've used both Didi and Uber in China many many times, and it seemed like they were competing against each other pretty hard, without discounts etc.

From my perspective as a customer, it seemed like they were both just trying to outspend each other to gain market share, and Uber just decided it was no longer a good use of cash.


Yeah, but Didi has Jean Liu, daughter of Liu Chuanzhi who is founder of Lenovo. She helped Didi raise the largest fundraising round in history.


Wasn't Uber losing ton of money in China? Also they had problems with regulators and local governments. I thought that was the main reason why they left.


I think the "problems with regulators and local governments" part is the implementation of the "forced into merging into a local entity" effect the great grandparent comment referred to.


Ironically, while it may be part of the implementation in China, Uber also has "problems with regulators and local governments" in every single place they do business. I am surprised Uber even got the chance to try in China.


Didi was also losing a ton of money in China. When they were competing head-to-head, both were offering ridiculous subsidies to both riders and drivers.


To be fair uber is losing a ton of money everywhere


any company stupid enough to go to China and give up its intellectual properties deserves to die. 1.3B people?! let me get a piece of that. Oh, and let my stuff get copied and stolen, and I'll lose the US market and the entire world market, which is way bigger than the Chinese market.


We've banned this account for violating the site guidelines. Nationalistic rants aren't welcome here.


[flagged]


> Isn't it a common practice to follow the local law wherever you do business and make money?

Following laws is normal, but Tim Cook shouldn't both comply on censorship, and right after promote an "open internet" conference hosted by the government that just told you remove the VPN from your app store.

China doesn't have rule of law, it rules BY law. Laws and their enforcement apply differently if you're local company or foreign company. Also differently whether you're in good terms with the government or not (this is probably why Cook even showed up at this conference to begin with).

If they want to shut you down they can just pile on unreasonable demands until you quit. Try applying for a journalist Visa without connections in mainland China to get a taste if this kind of functioning.

To have a company in China you need local partners, and you will have to give up your IP at some point.

Apple and Microsoft are still welcome because Apple creates tons of jobs and Microsoft runs on all the computers. If they loose that and still step on Chinese companies market, the tone would change quickly


This requirement for local partners is even present for doing scientific geology studies in the country. Without a local partner you are not going to get permits to look at rocks and take small samples anywhere in the country. Public lands in the US are wide open to walking around, looking at stuff, and taking a few rocks.


can you understand different countries have different laws? In China, when you buy alcohol in grocery store, nobody would check your ID. Would I say it is invade my privacy by checking my ID/driver license when I trying to buy alcohol?


Yes, I understand. If you are to do anything in China you will transfer your knowledge to China. The US does not require that. The US should have reciprocal law with respect to China. I actually thought that was the whole point of letting China join the WTO, but I guess I was wrong.



so, facts are hurting you, right?


On HN, it's necessary not to use the site primarily for political or national battle, and not ok to have a single-purpose account. You're welcome here as long as you want to use Hacker News as intended, but that means using it for intellectual curiosity, not lashing out at perceived national slights.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

Because the community is Western-oriented and most of us are rather ignorant of things Chinese, I'm sure that many things people say on Chinese topics can be hard to take. Nevertheless, we can't have nationalistic flamewars. If you know more, the thing to do is to teach us, in a civil spirit. If you can't or don't want to do that, that's fine, but then please refrain from posting.


Not in the least. I just noticed that you seem to have a bit of an agenda. Nothing wrong with that, but you've presented more rhetoric than fact as far as I can see.


I am mature enough and proud to have a consistent view.


In Russia, they say professional internet trolls get 11 RUR per comment (about 18c). I am curious how it is in China? Is it more or less?


You would be surprised how many people are trolls for free. Just brainwashed people parroting Russian talking points planted by Putin's intelligence service. I can see this on discussion forums in Eastern Europe. I don't doubt many of those people genuinely believe those things and are not being paid.



This breaks the HN guidelines. Please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow them regardless of what you think of someone else's comments.


5 RUR, but that was over 10 years ago. These days, it must be over 10 times that.


[flagged]


What facts? You boast about might being right like a caveman, and call that progress. You're not even capable of hearing the words of truly progressive people, and what I criticize the US, European countries and others for, I could never admire about China. A few lines from a poem by Erich Friend come to mind:

the imprint of their naked feet / in the desert sand / will outlast the silhouettes / of your bombs and tanks

That goes for everybody, everywhere. Past, present, future. Identifying with a nation, religion or race is not a sign of greatness, it's a sign that a person didn't get to develop. Having reached the local optimum available to you does not equal maturity, having no room left to grow does not mean you're big. Tens of billions multiplied by zero still equals zero.


Let China make their own iPhones if they want them locked down. Complying with censorship isn't projecting 'soft power', pulling out of China and letting people buy them as grey imports as a fashion statement would be soft power

Complying with the local laws is basically just greed when the laws are so far against your own core values


I mean Apple is free to leave China. But it seems that they really want to sell iPhones in China and make money there.

The point I am trying to make is that prevalent HN view against censorship is not something Apple leadership cares about enough to leave the market.


I think HN understands that Apple don't care, they just don't agree that is ethical.


Amazon does well in china. We used it often in china along with JD and, much more rarely, taobao.

Baidu best google because they were allowed to not follow local law, being a chinese company, and got popular on porn as well as rich in healthcare scams.


What's changed about China? Have they stopped propping up their own businesses with false profits? Have they stopped stealing IP from other companies? Of the companies you listed only 2 are able to compete outside of China because they actually make a reputable product.


You just knew 2 of them. If you try to get rid of all Made In China products from your home, your place would be empty I believe.


It's not just about "Made In China". I'm not being jingoist, I'm saying for China, they have relatively few top tier companies that can compete outside of China. They do very well inside China because they are insulated against competition, but for the vast majority of products that Chinese export they are only a market shift away from being priced out of being profitable as other regional players could easily take up low end manufacturing and automated factories in other parts of the world could, and probably will take up chip manufacturing. China as a long term strategy is a losing game for any country that isn't China first.


> Google was allowed to operate in China, and it decided it did NOT want to follow the law and quit.

Well google did not want to follow local law not because of their moral stand but because their business relies on gathering information about their customers, and thats different from Apple who mostly justs want to sell things to people.


The question becomes: is Apple helping give away the keys to the kingdom with China-based manufacturing and business, in exchange for ultimately fleeting short term profits?

Will they start to get the boot too?


Nice try to rewrite history, but the Chinese government didn't have a problem with Google doing targeted advertising, they had a problem with Google not wanting censor search results. Sergey Brin, who grew up in the Soviet Union, was adamant about not kowtowing to this. It didn't help that there were state level attempts to hack into humanitarian activist accounts.

Technically, Google didn't "leave" China either, they simply moved Google.cn to Hong Kong. The fact that mainland Chinese can't easily access Google without VPNs (now banned, helped along by Apple) is a political decision and doesn't have anything to do with Google. No one in the world has problems using Google.hk except those in the mainland.

Apple's behavior here is quite unethical no matter how you slice it. They are aiding and abetting a censorship regime that is cracking down even harder recently than it was previously. The centralized app store model makes it even worse, rather than better, as on the PC and Android, you can still side load apps or run linux, in order to avoid government mandated surveillance and censorship (In Xinjiang province, the government recently went as far as to mandate everyone install a backdoor or face jail time and fines)

Just wanting to sell things to people isn't an excuse, if in doing so, you are lending credibility and legitimacy to a unethical behavior. And frankly, the asymmetrical way many Western tech and media companies are blocked in China is frankly an unfair trade practice. Wasn't joining the WTO supposed to come with some kind of tit-for-tat agreements? That in exchange for lowering of tariffs and import regulations, there has to be some reciprocity on the other side?

Apple can still make their phones in China, but if they had a backbone, they'd say, no, "open internet" does not mean "we will help ban all VPNs from our store so Chinese consumers have NO CHOICE." and refuse the order, and let China ban the App Store. They could then allow a side-load model that decentralizes control so that the government can't even force them to censor.

In the US, they've marketed themselves as being anti-surveillance and proudly implemented cryptographic techniques in ways that even they can't break them. Allowing Chinese to sideload apps would allow them to say to the government "we can't stop people from using VPNs, we can't control what they download and install via side loading"

Sadly, that ship may have sailed, but IMHO, standing for your principles is better than selling out for money. They've already got $200 billion in cash in the bank and aren't hurting for revenue.


> It failed to compete against Alibaba and Jindong.

It hasn't been competing. Businesses that use AWS are forced into using competing inferior services. Part of what killed Red5Studios was not having capital to survive that transition.


I think that "It failed to compete against Alibaba and Jindong" refers to online shopping, not cloud computing.


> Isn't it a common practice to follow the local law

Oh, I like this statement.

Because based on the same statement, if Cook wants to make money in a country where been gay will be punished by death[0][1], he must be smiling like a sunflower when he standing in front of a gay couple who will soon be executed because of, well, local law.

Very delightful, Huh?

[0] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/06/13... [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_penalty_for_homosexualit...


Please refrain from taking HN threads into flamewar hell. Even assuming you're right, doing so destroys the community.


OK, fair.

But since I can't edit that post any more, let me just give you a free hug so we can continue enjoying the rest of the day.


I really appreciate Tim Cook being very pragmatic and non-confrontational in China. We have great products and fierce competition. This in itself gives us much more freedom.

The last time a company did the opposite it literally caused death--Google quitting China led to Baidu's ruthless ads for fake hospitals, which claimed many many lives.


My (admittedly cursory) search on this shows that Baidu's "fake hospital" scandal seems to be a problem with Baidu, not with Google quitting China. Is there evidence to even suggest that if Google search were available in China at the time then people would not have died?

I can't offer an opinion on whether or not Google should have tried to maintain more presence in China, but the link between them leaving the market and some people believing dodgy search results from Baidu and basing their critical medical treatment on said results is spurious to say the least.


It's basic economics. Baidu is a monopoly in China's poorly regulated search market. Google before quitting had a market share of 33%. People would at least have had different results to check against Baidu's had Google stayed. Baidu's aggressive and dishonest false ads are closely--if not directly--connected to Google's quitting.


This has to be a troll comment. The logic of this post is ridiculous.


Sadly this is not. I'm surprised people don't get the basic economics at work here. More market=more freedom. That's why we're freer than the Mao-era without having the right to vote for anybody. It's the same logic.


Tim Cook went there to get humiliated. Given what's at stake for his company, I doubt he had alternatives. I guess that's what a CEO would do. However by giving that speech he accomplished nothing but to confirm that he holds no ground against his local competitors whatsoever, and the article correctly points this out. China keeps laughing in the face of the West. The weakness and passiveness of western "democracies" is astounding, but no wonder that when you spend all your time to play internal politics there's little time left to envision an international strategy.

I wonder what it'll take for Western governments to get their stuff together and elaborate a response.


>The weakness and passiveness of western "democracies" is astounding

It's frustrating for me too, but having spent a significant amount of time in both China and the USA, I can say with absolute conviction, I'd still rather live in the USA.

But consider this. The only reason we tolerate their shenanigans is that they offer their unwashed masses to us as the 21st Century-equivalent of slave labor. Look at what is happening to their lands, waters, and sky. There is no doubt that China continues to be exploited, continues to remain in the position it has always occupied in dealings with the west.


"Given what's at stake for his company"

Reputation. Towards wealthy and relatively wealthy, ideology sensitive western customers who can afford the luxury of climate awareness (manifested in prominently declared environmental friendly approaches from Apple), demanding freedom ... and the premium level of Apple products! Towards those who made Apple successfull and give the bulk of the income - yet. All this in a period when Apple's reputation is corroded somewhat anyway.


The WP article links to a Bloomberg article[0] which boasts a more straightforward headline:

Cook Kisses the Ring

[0] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-04/cook-kiss...


Savage. This is part of the reason I don't use Apple products unless I have to.


What products do you use then? Chinese-made Android phones?


“The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook said, in widely reported remarks. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”

I don't even know how to react to his friendly remarks towards China. Is it to keep the government happy and keep profiting from the Chinese market? That would make sense. But sometimes I feel like he's become too friendly.



are they hinting about leaving China.

Why else would he use a term like "cyberspace" in this day and age? Or did he speak in chinese and this is a bad translation?


I am from India and people always look at China and say "look at how that country progressed". I always cringe at that statement. A country is not judged by how well it treats it citizens during the fun times, it is during the unrest that their treatment matters.

I'd rather prefer a cycle than the 400kmph trains Chinese have but I want the freedom of speech I get in India. (of course 2014-current we don't have much freedom of speech, but this is a democracy and will always stay a democracy.)


Different countries different values. Most probably majority of Chinese people care more about having a peaceful and prosperous life. At least this is what my Chinese friends tell me.

They're also really happy to be able to own an iPhone. It's a huge status symbol there. They couldn't care less about the "Western Internet". Baidu, Weibo, Alibaba, Taobao etc. are more than enough in everyday life.


What's interesting though is the huge change of opinion of people in the last 15 years. When I first came to China, everybody was optimistic, the future was bright, everything would work out.

Now when I talk to people from the lower classes, they are bitter and tell me that, yeah China progressed, but their life is worse. The gap has increased between the rich and the poor and I don't think China is a great role model in term of progress.


Same here, I'd rather live in the forest in a hut like a poor farmer as long as I have the freedom to do or say whatever I want to.

I have a hard time understanding why people value stuff over freedom.


So you would rather watch your children eat mud to fill their bellies, slowly starving to death, and keep your freedom of speech?


It is thousand times better than getting shot in the street like dogs. It is this mentality which encourages 'strong' leaders who screw the general public left right and center.


I don't have children and I would not even think about producing offspring if I were so poor. But in general, yes.


> and will always stay a democracy

This you can't really say, can you? :(


See, the most 'powerful' leader we had after Indira Gandhi was the current PM and he used to have public support because everyone was thinking that he'd do his magic.

But he won't be able to become a dictator. The loophole which Indira Gandhi used to form Emergency was removed and there is little chance that someone like her will be born, go to the top of a national party, win election and then form a coup.

Our armed forces are controlled by the President who, usually is voted from the outside, she ain't just a rubber stamp. Plus, not to mention, we don't have a democracy, we have an oligarchy, the politicians own businesses everywhere and the big business houses own all political parties so even if we became a dictatorship, the big business houses will be the ones to lose, at least one of them and that's all it takes to form a coup to kill the dictator.


Years ago, I walked into a pharmacy in London. The Indian owner was having a chitchat and told me they invaded China with no troops using Buddhism. The ignorance and arrogance were just unbelievable.


People lap up Apple's PR about how altruistic they are especially in the US, but then use the "but the shareholders" cop out with regards to anything to do with China.


Apple's tax evasion to the tune of billions has been going on for years, it's a shame that their "Double Irish" evasion scheme revealed in the Paradise Papers has flown relatively under the radar


Anything that even questions a company's moral and ethics and holding them accountable always gets the ol' "Shareholder, only for profit duh". Ok we understand that, but I'm still saying it is not Ok.


I've always wondered why the western countries didn't take a much harder stance on China's anti-competitive practices. Chinese economy might is basically (or was) built with western capital (intelectuall also) and a lot of it was stolen. Or they only saw short-term profits even though in the long run it will bite them hard?


You sold your soul Tim for the bottom line. Enough of the charade and just admit it. No one believes you.


The problem is that many people do believe his bullshit.


Yes, shame on Cook to kiss the ring, but Apple gets to bring its top notch service and product to Chinese users, set the fine example of what brand, quality, design and technology can achieve. What have Google achieved for Chinese users by quitting China 7 yrs ago? Lack of competition brought new height of profit to Baidu and continuous damage to users[1][2], I certainly don't blame Sergey Brin for that[3], but nothing for Chinese users to cheer on that either.

Innocent age of Internet has died. I don't think there a right answer for Cook, but there're probably some worse answers, I'm grateful he did not take those and people who I care about can still buy iPhones in China.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-baidu/baidu-promotes-fake...

[2] http://www.businessinsider.com/baidu-being-investigated-afte...

[3] https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/interview-sergey-b...


> What have Google achieved for Chinese users by quitting China 7 yrs ago?

They earned the respect of many people, who are used to continually seeing corporations sell out their values for profits.

Getting out of potentially the biggest market in the world because of incompatible values = courage. As opposed to removing a headphone jack from a phone.


You could also say they have enabled the rise of Baidu and with it a Google clone that is completely under the control of the Chinese government.

I do respect Google for pulling out - this was actually the last time Google actually really tried to "don't be evil". Since then, they've thrown that overboard. But that one time, they did it.

The problem is that the outcome was worse than remaining there. That was a lack of wisdom on Google's part.

Apple could pull out, lose Billions of dollars and a hundred million users, Chinese wouldn't be able to get their hands on iPhones, and Samsung, Meizu, Huawei, and so on would be having a field day selling their government-approved devices, which, in terms of privacy, are infinitely worse than iPhones.

Apple is actually implementing some pretty serious privacy features, like end to end encryption in iMessage and so on.


You're presenting a false dichotomy.

Google would have lost to Baidu regardless and don't think for a second this wasn't factored in their decision.

The Chinese are known for degrading the online experience of western services in preference for local alternatives. This coupled with the fact that Baidu really is better for the Chinese market, just how Yandex has been better for the Russian market.

> Apple is actually implementing some pretty serious privacy features, like end to end encryption in iMessage and so on.

The end to end encryption in iMessage is shit because Apple is managing the encryption keys and if your adversary is the Chinese government you'll get fucked given Apple's newfound willingness to bend over.


Have you ever used Baidu? It's worse than Google even when searching for Chinese. Baidu did a few things well: it was good for finding pirated content and porn, but for actual research, it's horrible.


I don't think OP was saying Google would lose to Baidu because of quality, but because the Chinese government has deep fingers in Baidu there's a very good chance they will cripple Google's services in favor of Baidu's.


I'm not sure about that that argument - in the same way you could argue below minimum wage work is okay because unemployment (or the alternative) is worse.


The question was what did it do for the Chinese people. The answer is not that much really.

Google was also doing terribly business wise in China, its revenue was a small and it was losing the search war against local giants like Baidu anyway.

It wasn't much of a courageous move but more so of a smooth PR move.


No, it did a lot to Chinese.

By exiting China, Chinese companies got the chance to actual grow and develop its talent pool. almost 10 years on, now 4 of the top 10 internet companies in the world are Chinese companies providing huge number of high paying highly skilled jobs to Chinese.

feel free to compare what Europe and Japan managed to get in the last decade in terms of Internet based economy.


what a joke, when google left China it had already lost the battle with local competitors, check the market share immediate before its quit.


It had 31% in 2010, which had grown from 15% in 2006. What do you think would have happened if Google Play and Google didn't get blocked? I'll tell you, many Android phones in China would have come with Google as the default, and those numbers would have went up.

The blocking of Google.cn was more than just Search. YouTube, Drive, Gmail, Google Play, Maps, etc are all blocked. In 2010, Google and Amazon had an enormous advantage over BAT and if there was complete freedom, they would have taken substantially more of a chunk of services.

This is not a localization issue. Google has 86% marketshare in Hong Kong and 91% in Taiwan. Search and hosting services localize easily.

Google gave up an enormous opportunity by not being willing to kowtow to the standard practice of handing over half your company in a joint venture or adopting political control over information. If you look at the valuations of BAT, it was a substantial opportunity cost. But it was the right thing to do.


you may want to double check your facts first -

the name of your favourite search engine google can not even be spelt by most Chinese, out of their market share of 15%, many had to use baidu to search for the address of google to get there.

amazon never engaged in any real competition in China, it was ebay that lost the entire market because ebay was focusing on protecting buyers when taobao.com chose to better serve and protect sellers.

High market share in Hong Kong and Taiwan? Well, how many local internet companies are there in those two places? How many qualified software engineers they have locally produced?

You can keep worship google, the truth that you can never deny is that 10 years after google's exit, China's internet sector is more active and profitable than ever before with almost half of the the world top 10 Internet companies being Chinese. That brings huge number of both well paid and highly skilled jobs for Chinese. Such kind of personal freedom surely is not something you support.


Fact: They had a 36% market share at the highest, so more than 1/3 of their users apparently could "spell" 谷歌。 What do you mean by "spell"? Pinyin? Many people from the generation older than 35 don't even know Pinyin. I'm pretty sure KaiFu Li knew how to market in China.

The rest of your message seems bizarrely nationalistic. How many engineers has Taiwan produced? I don't see how that's relevant to Google's market share, but Taiwan has a thriving tech economy, and TSMC is one of the world leaders in semiconductor fabrication.

I get it, you want Google banned from China because you don't want domestic Chinese companies to face free and fair competition. Great, that's a perfectly fine position to have, just don't act like Google didn't pull out of China because of interference by the government and that Baidu won because of superior quality. It was not a purely market driven decision and you know it. Also, don't complain if China is eventually punished by the WTO for trade protectionism, or if Western countries start punishing Chinese companies. It's already started: Huawei for example. The world might have been willing to overlook it when China was less well developed, but now there's no excuse for it.


when asked "How many qualified software engineers they have locally produced?", you came up with TSMC as example? Is that a software related company? Do they build internet services to complete with Google? Let me respond to your high google marketshare in Taiwan claim again - Taiwan has far less qualified software engineers and thus impossible to come up with anything to complete with google services. As comparison, you probably see 1 million young graduates joining workforce to work as software engineers in mainland China every coupe of years, that is the difference you failed to even understand.

Is that nationalistic?

Now let's look at your ~30% marketshare claims - you intentionally refused to mentioned the fact that Baidu had its market share increased from 40% to 64% in the same period when google peaked in 2010 - baidu had bigger market share and even bigger market share growth. That is a typical sign of google losing the competition - winner takes all is the rule of the Internet, it is the rule served google so well in all other markets, it is the rule that helped google to completely wipe out yahoo search and bing.

https://www.forbes.com/2010/01/15/baidu-china-search-intelli...

learn to grow up.


Taiwan has less qualified and so it can't compete with Google services? Then how come the UK and Sweden have produced significant services on the world stage? Being able to compete is not a function of # of engineers. Silicon Valley is but a tiny fraction of the US population. It's more about the environment you engender and the kind of people you can attract, beyond just engineers. WhatsApp had 33 engineers and obtained 1 billion users.

If Baidu was already winning, then there's no need to block Google for competitive reasons, is there?

You seem to be arguing that Google was hurting the development of domestic talent, and then also arguing Baidu was going to win anyway. If so, why the need for protectionism then?


I don't understand the argument. If Google's objective was to earn respect from many people, then why didn't they quit US or other Five Eyes countries after Snowden? They changed their motto from do no evil to do the right thing. They quash ideas they don't like[1]. They collect WiFi info without permission[2]. They forcibly collect Android location info[3], and many more that people constantly forget (so do I). How does any of this earn respect from people?

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15145176

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/may/15/google-ad...

[3] https://qz.com/1131515/google-collects-android-users-locatio...


Google is a US-based companies with subsidiaries in Europe. Quitting your country of origin doesn't make sense when the conditions haven't changed much since ~2000 when the company started.

Such "why don't they..." questions represent a logical fallacy.

In the US and Europe we can fight against censorship by lobbying, by getting the word out, etc. Yes, we have surveillance and are not winning every fight, but we still have rights, we still have freedom of speech and we still have the framework of the law to work in and politicians are still subject to the rules of democracy.

In China on the other hand the whims of the ruling party reign supreme and before you open your mouth to say anything, I'll have you know that I'm a citizen of Romania, a former Communist country from the Warsaw Pact and I know communism ;-)

And yes, Google has my respect for making a stand against Chinese censorship, regardless of your opinions about them.


The attitude of this reply may get me downvoted or flagged, but I still want to say it.

Five eyes are not only in Europe.

Quitting your country of origin makes sense if you are those companies that claim to be friend of justice who also want to gain your people's respect. And Google is a multinational enterprise who loves tax havens very much.[1]

Oh yes, the lobbying. How is the net neutrality thing going by the way? Has NSA/CIA/FBI stopped what they've being doing? Last time I heard about FBI is Apple opposes putting backdoor in their products. Apparently they didn't stop, yet they are seeking for some kind of power expanding. I hope your sense of superiority didn't come from "we are better than the worst."

Voters and politicians accuse Russia group for buying commercials. Companies like Google/Facebook are censoring terrorism videos/hate speech/fake news they (not people) don't like. Why would they do such thing if they are so confident with freedom of speech? Yes, the government won't do many things to you because of the definition of freedom of speech, just like what Aaron Swartz said[2], the power of censorship is holding by private sectors, their policies can be transparent or shady whenever they want, to gain support from general people. Being open is part of their PR, not because there's law to force them.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/abigailtracy/2016/02/19/google-...

[2] https://www.wired.com/2013/04/aaron-swartz-interview/

edit: added links


> Oh yes, the lobbying. How is the net neutrality thing going by the way?

I'm glad you asked. Net neutrality is being debated in the open and there are good arguments against it that haven't been addressed.

Given that I live in a European country where competition in this space is really high, with high speed Internet / 4G connections being available for cheap, with plenty pro-consumer EU regulations already in place, I'm actually against net neutrality.

But the important thing for me though is that I can voice my opinions for or against it without fearing the government will rain down on me or my family. Last week and the week before that I was on the streets, participating in a public protest against our current government, because I can.

Again, those who haven't lived in a totalitarian state and haven't had grandparents or parents persecuted by the state for thinking thoughts against the regime, those people don't know what they are talking about. Imagine living in fear of reprisals just for listening to the former Radio Free Europe, which is what communism gives you.

> I hope your sense of superiority didn't come from "we are better than the worst."

No, my sense of superiority comes from facts and history.


Hi there, how do you think about this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15912965


Yes. Engagement always beats sanctions. As in, it's impossible to sanction China - China has no issues kicking out Google, Apple, and anyone else who doesn't want to follow the laws.

Apple is wise enough to not suddenly engage in a battle for human rights. It's not the place of a company to change the laws.

What they can do is remain there, implement strong encryption everywhere, protect their users. That's what they're doing.


China will not allow strong encryption without a backdoor. If that happens the iPhone will be banned.


Maybe they'll just accidentally slip a bug in the code that allows passwordless root login.


Say what you want, but the buck ultimately stops at the feet of the Chinese people who allow this gross injustice.


Standing in front of a gun is a difficult sale to the man who isn't starving.


An injustice that lifts hundreds of millions out of poverty...


Is amazon trying to hit Apple hard? This is the second critical article about Apple on the same day. Where are the articles about amazon‘s practices?


> Alongside Cook in endorsing China’s digital vision were officials from countries such as Saudi Arabia and Serbia, it noted.

Not the examples I want to use to show the "openness".

The interesting thing for me is we have to celebrate "open internet vision" in 2017. So, is China admitting they were not open in last couple of years?


Apple is turning into the definition of the "big evil" that MS used to be 15 years ago


It seems the world has come full circle. This seems to be a close analogue of the Macartney Embassy(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macartney_Embassy) that went to China in 1793. Except that now the kowtow has been replaced by placating speeches.


This is looking like the show Mr Robot when the UN passes a motion to allow China to annex Congo. It's fucking preposterous.


Wait, they're straight up annexing it in the show? That's ridiculous. Not like they don't own it already though.


Yeah it seemed utterly ridiculous in the show. But looking at Tim Cook sucking it up like this publicly it doesn't seem so far off now.


The only solution is to own your company, otherwise an impersonal set of shareholders own you. The IPO removes moral degrees of freedom. Everyone, build SMEs!


I think any vision of an open and equal Internet is going to fail in the long term, not only because it does not work in the interests of governements and major corporations - but also because people don't want it.

China explicitly censors its Internet as a way of control, whereas in the west news agencies implicitly censor news through selective reporting and giving greater weight to stories that support the narrative they want to push.

I'm not convinced one is any worse than the other, the west is slightly better in that you may not be sent to jail over a dissenting opinion - but good luck trying to effect any kind of change.


> the west is slightly better in that you may not be sent to jail over a dissenting opinion

As someone who is personally a big fan of not going to jail, I consider this more than "slightly" better


There's a big difference between state censorship and news companies being biased in what stories they promote.

I think you're distorting the lines between the internet as a communication network and the news industry who uses that network to distribute content.


"but good luck trying to effect any kind of change"

One US president has already been kicked out of office due to jounalists, and we may see it happen again in the near future. What do you think would happen to those journalists in China, and how effective do you think they would be?


Clinton resigned actually. He was caught red handed and chose the smart way out, since nowadays that episode is almost forgotten. Even with this surge of witch hunts over alledged sexual misconduct.


Clinton did not resign, nor was he removed from office. Are you thinking of Nixon?


>in the west news agencies implicitly censor news through selective reporting and giving greater weight to stories that support the narrative they want to push.

Except in the west there are countless alternative news sources that freely present other views. But I bet you already knew that.


Not so many, really... Look at the TV/radio/news markets and see how many voices there are. And the FCC loosening rules to let Sinclair etc own a higher percentage of sources in each market is only letting it get worse.


It seems from my perspective that Cook knows that technology alone will help expand viewpoints of people within China, which will ultimately lead to more democracy in general.

I think it's unfair to assume that if Apple was to outright leave the Chinese market that this would somehow change China's stance on censorship. Instead, it will just likely cause competition to fill the gap as already is the case with many things in China's tech scene today.

So what do people think is the right choice for them? Leave China all together and say "no way, we won't be here unless the internet is totally open" or "we'll accept it.. for now"?


"It seems from my perspective that Cook knows that technology alone will help expand viewpoints of people within China, which will ultimately lead to more democracy in general."

That hypothesis made sense with trade before and it makes sense with technology now. Unfortunately, decades of waiting have yielded no positive results.

Yes, leave. The Chinese are more likely to be hopeful of freedom if they don't see Americans as equivalently bad.


If Apple leaves China, where would they manufacture iPhones?


Korea? Japan? Taiwan? The US?


If Apple doesn't manufacture iPhones in China, can the combined manufacture capacities in these countries satisfy the demand of iPhones globally?

What I want to say is that Apple does not only sell products in China, it also manufactures its products in China.


I suspect more prosaic motive. Tim Cook has fiduciary duty to his shareholders who want to sell in China as its big market and lot of money to be made. So Tim Cook has to do things like this in order to stay on the good side of the Chinese government. I wouldn’t see any hidden idealism behind it.


> Tim Cook has fiduciary duty to his shareholders ...

That rationalization is used for a lot of damaging behavior; the duty to shareholders is not the only duty, and does not take priority over all the others. He also has responsibilities, for example, to employees and to his community, and for Apple the community is everywhere they sell products.

Supporting the oppression of others in order to make money is wrong; it's evil. His job as CEO is to navigate difficult issues like this one; the easy questions can be left to the junior managers.


Unfortunately in free market capitalist system duty to shareholders takes priority over anything else. As long as you are not breaking the law (but even that can be solved by lobbying government to add loopholes to legislature), shareholders will be happy with anything you do which makes them more money.

Do you suggest Apple leave Chinese market? I'm not sure Tim Cook could get away with that even if he wanted to. Board would replace him with CEO more aligned with profit oriented shareholders imho. Tim Cook is not Steve Jobs, he is certainly be replaceable.


> in free market capitalist system duty to shareholders takes priority over anything else

That's not actually true, though I agree that it is often repeated and there is pressure from shareholders and others. It's not and never has required absolute obedience; and IIRC even that idea in the theoretical sense was developed in the 1980s, long after the advent of large public companies.

> Do you suggest Apple leave Chinese market?

His choices are not so extreme. He doesn't have to show up at this conference, for example, or he can make a speech that promotes the freedom of the Chinese people. There are many other ways to navigate the situation; see my prior comment regarding that subject.


> He doesn't have to show up at this conference

I agree. But that would be mostly meaningful gesture as it wouldn't change anything.

> he can make a speech that promotes the freedom of the Chinese people

This might be more meaningful and would actually mean he is putting something on the line / has skin in the game. Which is why I can't imagine Cook doing that. He would be putting Apple's business in China in danger by doing that.

> There are many other ways to navigate the situation; see my prior comment regarding that subject.

Yes, but the more meaningful actions Cook / Apple could take, the more likely it would damage their business. So it is against their interest to do anything other than empty gestures.


>> He doesn't have to show up at this conference

> I agree. But that would be mostly meaningful gesture as it wouldn't change anything.

I disagree about its impact. He legitimizes the oppression of the Chinese people with his presence; he says 'this is ok'.

> it is against their interest to do anything other than empty gestures

It is against their immediate financial interest; my whole point is that there are other interests too.


Tim Cook has himself explicitly challenged this logic before:

> “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock” [0]

I don’t necessarily believe you are wrong in this case, but I don’t believe your path to supporting your statements was necessarily correct either.

[0] http://www.businessinsider.com/apple-ceo-tim-cook-companies-...


Skeptical person like me would interpret Cook's quote as just a PR piece to improve Apple image. It's part of branding strategy for Apple but I am not certain how genuine or calculated it is.


> Tim Cook has fiduciary duty to his shareholders who want to sell in China as its big market and lot of money to be made.

The "profit maximization duty" is a myth. There's no such duty and as long as the management acts in the interests of the company, with very wide margin (basically, everything that is not explicitly designed to hurt the company and benefit themselves, such as stealing company funds to private account) - they are legally fine. Shareholders can, in general, remove management if they don't like it, but prosecuting management for a business decision that did not immediately increase profit would be extremely hard.

In particular, the management is fully free (at least doesn't have legal duty to avoid it) to not help censorship in China, even if doing so would bring profit. There is no "duty" to grab every profitable opportunity regardless of morals.


That has been American thinking leading up to this point in time and guess what? IT ISN'T WORKING AND IT WONT WORK. China has their own culture and traditions and that won't just change because we trade with them or Apple sells stuff there.


It's not American thinking; these are recognized around the world as universal, inalienable rights. Also universal is every dictator's attempt to portray them as just another opinion which doesn't apply to the "culture" (a usefully indefinable, subjective word) of their country. It's a very old argument, with a disreputable, self-serving cast of advocates.

Following that reasoning, communism, capitalism and international trade are emphatically not part of Chinese culture - not to mention the way people in China now dress and most of the technology and consumer goods they use. Imperial monarchies interspersed with periods of civil war, economic and cultural isolation, and all of it based around Confucianism - that's been the culture since around 250 BCE, and they forcefully rejected Western trade and technology when they encountered it in the mid-19th century (leading to some horrible actions by the UK and other nations).

Chinese people in Taiwan and Hong Kong believe in and live these universal values, and they are the most prosperous, free, and stable regions of China. The values of freedom and democracy apply to other cultures worldwide, from Europe to India to China (Taiwan and Hong Kong) to Japan to South Korea to South Africa to Brazil. It's very hard to argue that they are just one nation's idiosyncrasy.

And who is to say that the people of mainland China don't want these things? Why not ask them? If Xi is so sure that a communist dictatorship has broad support, why not hold a vote?


I don't think using caps helps your argument.

Just saying that something isn't working doesn't mean there is a better option, either. Do you think there would be a different outcome if everyone pulled out of China completely and they do everything on their own without any external influence?


The caps were to emphasize my point it wasn't meant to advance my argument

Yes I don't think that bowing to blatant censorship is a good option. He is enabling the suppression of free speech to make sure his stock doesn't drop. There are some cases where trading with China would be fine but selling products to wall off free speech is not one of them


> The caps were to emphasize my point

That's explicitly against the site guidelines, so can you please not do it here? It's basically yelling.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Is he naive or greedy? Or is this actually a good thing? I don't know.

Combine this with the other story on the front page where Apple shares the wireframe of your face. Not reassuring.


It doesn’t share the wireframe of your face. It shares a generic face wireframe morphed to fit on your face. This wireframe lacks details that could be used to identify you in a way FaceID does. This is not worse than letting the developers access front facing camera to take a picture of your face.


Possibly neither of those two (I doubt he is naive and I don't think he's greedy, he has FU enough money and could retire and never work again if he wanted to). He's just doing what Apple shareholders want, i.e. sell Apple products in biggest mobile phone market in the world.


China is a well run country, but most countries seem that way with 5%+ economic growth YoY.

In reality, it’s slowly becoming a prison of 1.3 billion people that is gently closing its maws on them. Life is good, growth is great, but whenever the next crisis comes, which it will, the government will not be replaced like in Democracy but actively fight back, with technology developed by the best American companies. From there, they will probably close down and self-seal their economy like the Soviet Union did with some success, and embark on a period of profound killing as a means of control.


Next few decades would be interesting. China definitely had the upper hand in industrialisation with little to no opposition to its policies and infrastructure infrastructure projects. It still has it. But, it seems they have firm belief in tightening their rein. India, on the other hand, while at least a decade behind, is a less restrictive system by design. If it takes few steps right, India could be a less frightening alternative for future investments.


India is a fragmented country and Modi has to win another term impressively to get any kind of "true" reforms. Even if he succeeds, its the South and West leading the economy and Hindi heartland playing catch-up in spite of being political and population center.

India will develop unevenly Gujarat, Maharashtra, TN, AP will forge ahead. The interior will have lesser impressive growth.

As long as India periphery is culturally diverse from Hindi core, India is not going to get anywhere. It will grow and medium pace and will make it to middle income in 2040, but nothing stellar.


> As long as India periphery is culturally diverse from Hindi core, India is not going to get anywhere.

Could you elaborate on why that might be?


That was a racist comment. He/She was referring to Hindi belt, which contains UP, Bihar, MP, the capital Delhi and likes. Many of the regions are poorest in India. This is commonly referred to as core of India.


Do you whine about every comment you disagree with as racism. Go look at the maps of other countries, you will see a pattern that coasts are richer than hinterland.

Maligning another person's integrity with ease shows your character, or lack there of.


What? That was really not the point. The GP's point was 'As long as India periphery is culturally diverse from Hindi core, India is not going to get anywhere', which is kind of opposite of what you are saying. Also see 'India will develop unevenly Gujarat, Maharashtra, TN, AP will forge ahead' which shows kind of unhappiness from development of some areas.


Heck if India could fix it's power issues and network peering issues they'd catch up pretty darned quick.


I'd love to see India be what China could have been, in terms of being a more liberal, accessible economy. More welcoming to outsiders. Their long-term growth prospects will indeed catch up to or surpass China if they can manage that.


I see no basis in reality for this claim.

China is more open now, than it has been at any point since 1949 - and it continues to liberalize things - just very very slowly.


I think most would agree if was more open under Hu than it is now under Xi. They’re moving in the wrong direction.


Could you give examples? What was better under Hu?


"Liberalize things" can you cite any, because as someone who is familiar with China, Xi's regime is less liberal than ever. The country does welcome foreign investors, but that's about it (and that comes with a lot of restrictions).


"Liberalize things" is an euphemism for "the ruling party reigns supreme and can fuck you over on a whim, but at least the people aren't going hungry like in the former Soviet Union".


> Xi's regime is less liberal than ever.

Is it? Can you give an example of where Hu and Jiang were more liberal than Xi?


Watch the 60 Minutes interview of Jiang by Mike Wallace.


> Xi's regime is less liberal than ever.

How so?


The HK bookstore owners disappearing come to mind.


... Which is exactly how things have worked in mainland China before Xi, under Xi, and will continue to work after Xi.

Xi is not 'less liberal' then his predecessors because he started repressing Hong Kong the exact same way that they repressed the mainland. I mean, this sucks for Hong Kong, but it's not like the CCP had a sudden change of heart under him - it just took them a few years (And a bit of an anti-mainland movement) to start flexing their political muscle in Hong Kong.


While it is true that even under Hu, HK government was pressured to take orders from the mainland government, it is evident that the current regime is less tolerant to any democratic opinions. HK government is forced to implement the "National Anthem Law", and is planning (I believe still a rumor, but most likely the truth) to pass the controversial Hong Kong Basic Law Article 23.

At least during Hu's time there was still some minimum open channel (advocated by Chief Tsang) between the democrats and the mainland government. Now, there is none. There is no compromise on anything coming from mainland.

There is absolutely no flex under Xi's regime. I used to be quite pro-mainland myself, but in recent years I have switched my position after seeing how the mainland government is overreaching the One Country Two System.


"Hong Kong is being repressed" does not mean that Xi is meaningfully less liberal, overall.

How has Xi changed life for citizens of mainland China - the 99.5% of the population that does not live in Hong Kong? How has it become more authoritarian for them?

Every time I've asked this question, the answer has always involved Hong Kong - as if it is representative of China as a whole.

Nobody considers Puerto Rico to be representative of the rest of the United States, or Gibraltar to be representative of the rest of the United Kingdom. Hong Kong is, in a similar vein, a poor litmus test.


And they were released and allowed to tell their story.

If this incident happened any time before Xi, would the outcome have been the same?


Why registered a new account to comment on this? You can't be serious right? They told a story based on a script. Sorry, I cannot trust someone who just created a new account to make a comment like this.


I'm not asking you to trust me.

I'm asking you a question.

OP was saying that Xi is more liberal than his predecessors.

You said "Xi's regime is less liberal than ever."

So my question then is how would his predecessors handle the Hong Kong booksellers?


And they were released and allowed to tell their story.

If this incident happened any time before Xi, would the outcome have been the same?


They were released because the mainland government was forced to explain why the owners were arrested (but a lot of people believe they were kidnapped). In particular, one of the owners is a British citizen.

While pro-mainland argued that the owners were arrested lawfully, the truth is not.

> It was widely believed that the booksellers were detained in mainland China, and in February 2016 Guangdong provincial authorities confirmed that all five had been taken into custody in relation to an old traffic case involving Gui Minhai.

How could all five be detained in relation to an old traffic case? Most importantly, there was no evidence of these owners leaving HK, so how did they end up in China? All five of them? Plotting against mainland? Why would a traffic case warrant this kind of arrest? Let's face it, if this was a local traffic incident in U.S., there would be no manhunt at this scale.


So are you saying that Xi's predecessors would have handled the situation in a more "liberal manner?"


Really? VPNs banned, Skype banned (recently), and in Xinjiang province, forced installation of backdoors. China has the largest surveillance state of any country internally now under Xi, things have gotten far more locked down since he became President.


Corruption is still endemic, as is natural in dictatorships. It's punished very publically when it's revealed, but that's likely to be the tip of the iceberg.


> China is a well run country, but most countries seem that way with 5%+ economic growth YoY.

What most people don't seem to understand is that China's growth is largely based on the fact that it started off, very recently, from such a low baseline.

Big percentage increases are a lot easier when you go from nothing, that doesn't mean you'd want to be a country that recently started from nothing.


> it’s slowly becoming a prison of 1.3 billion people that is gently closing its maws on them.

China has a long and established history of replacing governments that are unfair to their people. It's just, why would you overthrow a government bringing in so much economic growth. Once that growth slows down their government will get away with less civil rights violations.


The Chinese government is directly drawing its legitimacy from the betterment of the Chinese population and this seems to be also the government’s own understanding of the situation.


> China is a well run country

While I generally agree with your point, I don't know if I accept this premise. Would citizens in Tibet agree, for example? Hong Kong?


"Well run" is so wide as to be meaningless without qualifying it. Economy? Environment? Human rights? Life expectancy? Happiness? There are an endless number of metrics. China certainly would do well on some of them, and horribly on others.


Depends on who you ask. Lots of mainlanders live in HK now. I'd assume most young HK-ers are still against China but if nothing changes slowly the HK will be assimilated and mainstream opinion will align more with mainland Chinese as time goes on.


> but if nothing changes slowly the HK will be assimilated and mainstream opinion will align more with mainland Chinese as time goes on

With due respect, that's a prediction without a basis, not evidence or an argument.


It's actually my opinion. I'm not claiming it is a provable fact. It is just what I think might happen in next 50 years let's say.

HK has been independent for a long time and been given back to China quite recently so I think 100 years from now if it stays as part of China it would be much less independent.

For example, take a look at Kaliningrad which is completely Russian now. Or other parts of Europe which were assimilated when taken over by bigger nations/states.


Or you could look at ex-Yugoslavian states, Catalonia, Scotland. Kaliningrad is one Russian example, but you also have the ~14 countries that used to be part of the USSR and chose independence. Things can swing either way, even after prolonged periods of integration. For HK it will depend on how much of a separate "Hong Kong" identity can survive.


Yes, and the former Soviet republics have all either remained in the Russian sphere of influence or have moved aggressively into the Western one. Either way, the simplicity of this “choosing independence” idea conceals a considerably more complicated and delicate reality that more closely resembles the grandparent poster’s argument. :-)


This is fascinating: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaliningrad

Though in Kaliningrad's case the original inhabitants were evicted.


Yes. Also see: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaliningrad_question

It's completely hypothetical but there are some people arguing it should be returned to Germany as it used to be German for many centuries before.


It’s very possible. Especially if the HKers move away. Funny, the doom and gloom predicted for 1997 did come eventually, just 20 years later.


How was HK independent when their leaders were directly appointed by the British government?


I think, in context, the meaning was that HK was, for a long time, independent of China.


Go on with your science fiction plot. "In reality" it's not like that at all. Have you ever been to China?


China is NOT well run. Life is NOT good. The growth is FAKE 7% every year.

There was a very recent event happening in Beijing kindergarten regarding sexual abuses....and the authorities CLAMPED DOWN ON THE MEDIA and DENIED IT TOOK PLACE. http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/rumors-11292017123013....

Why do you think the rich and the intellectuals are fleeing the country? Polluted air, polluted water, polluted food, hidden poverty, censorship, police state, the list goes on and on....


Would you please not rant here, let alone on nationalistic topics, and please not use all-caps for emphasis? This is in the site guidelines: https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.


I've spent the better part of my last few months in China, Beijing and Shanghai specifically. China just speed-ran the industrial revolution at 10x the size of the US and is about to surpass us in the next era of energy, renewable energy.

Beijing pollution is still bad. But it's 1/2 of where it was at 4 years ago, and will likely be non-existent in the next 10 years.


Yeah, I'm with you on this one. Most westerners' impressions of China are 10 years behind. There's always been a ton of, "Just wait until the sky falls China won't be prepared" doom saying but as a controlled economy they've become the largest producer of green energy in the world, and are racing to produce the first general A.I.


It's finals season in college so of course I just wrote an essay about this whole thing. I have 3 points to make;

1. I think people need to think of this in the historical context. China has always been closed to the West. The only time they really "opened up" it was because they were forced to after the opium wars, and they lost much of their sovereignty to European spheres of influence that ultimately wrecked them economically. Being closed has historically worked for them and not being so hasn't, so is it such a surprise they want to remain closed?

2. Economically it makes tonnes of sense to do this, and to be honest, I believe that's the main reason they're doing it (more so than to stop criticism's of the party or try to hide stuff). They're beating the West at their own game. Their country has so many people they don't need international markets; China has more people than Europe and North America combined!

France, for example, will likely never get it's own Facebook, Uber or Amazon because Facebook, Uber and Amazon are free to operate there, and as long as these big players hang around (which they will, indefinitely) there will be little space for a competing product to develop. This means France,

- Will have tech startups, but never with "Silicon Valley" level size or growth.

- These services in France will be highly dependant on USA policy

- Most importantly, there will be less incentive for certain types of engineering to grow in France. Like, will France ever have a hub for self-driving car research if there's no French Uber/Lyft/etc? Will it ever have as many self-driving car specialists? If there are engineers interested in this, they will most likely come to the US and work here.

China is protecting itself from brain/idea/high-skilled-job-drain by ensuring local alternatives grow within its borders. It wants to be a tech hub, and this is really the best if not only way to do it when it comes to software tech.

3. Stability. We might call it censorship and control, and we might be right, but especially after the Russian involvement in the USA's latest presidential elections and how easy it was for them to reach their audience online [1], do they not have reason to be paranoid? It's in the interest of Russia to have Trump as president, and, tbh, to split the American people and have in-fighting. And apparently it's not hard for them to make this happen in this connected world. Propaganda can come from both within, and outside.

I'm not trying to say that this is the best approach or that everyone should do this, but there's definitely more to it than "China is evil and wants to brainwash people isolating them from the outside world". Information can definitely get in and out of China; I think the historical, economic and defensive reasons make more sense in explaining China's approach. They're just being protectionist.

[1]: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/30/facebook-...


You make some compelling arguments. I’d be curious to see the rest of your essay. Have you published it somewhere?


Oh, it was just an expression for a super-long comment; I didn't write an actual essay! Though maybe I should actually expand on these arguments and write up an essay to post on Medium or something at some point. I'll keep it in mind (:


Polluted air, polluted water, polluted food, hidden poverty, blah, blah, ... and yet China's life expectancy is only 3 year shorter than America's (76 vs 79), and China's population is 4 times as bigger as America's. I will have to say, good job Chinese government!


Asian Americans (similar genetics) have a life expectancy of 87 years, that’s 11 years more.


Probably due to the trading all Chinese diet. Which has very little to do with the communist party, who are a very recent development.


traditional Chinese diet. Thanks autocorrect.


Those sure are a lot of sensationalist claims.

Can you provide evidence for your "FAKE" 7% YoY growth statistic? I know plenty of traders & Americans doing business in China who'd disagree with you.

I understand why people would flee -- the pollution is insane. But still, by all measures I've see the economic growth is quite real.

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