Why is this code even present on US devices? Is the word "Taiwan" such a bad word in China that, instead of some reasonable action, it crashes the OS? Is the Chinese government so upset about Taiwan they're insisting manufacturers hide the flag from the keyboard?
All aspects of this are mind-boggling.
From my reading of the article, the intention was not to crash the device, but to hide the Taiwanese flag emoji - and the crash was because the code intended to do that was buggy.
So no - it's not _that_ bad a word.
> Is the Chinese government so upset about Taiwan they're insisting manufacturers hide the flag from the keyboard?
Yes, it seems this is true - and while I've never needed to deal with requests like that from a nation state, it does seem kinda cowardly on Apple's part to agree to that, and it seems quite at odds with the resistance to the FBI getting a screenlock bypass to that iPhone 5 a while back...
It's not at odds at all. The US isn't going to arbitrarily blockade Apple's market access over the screenlock conflict. At worst you go to court and battle the US Government over that, with a decent chance of prevailing. China will and can do anything it likes, including entirely removing your market access, if you injure their fragile national self-esteem. They're very sensitive about perceived slights, whether due to their history or the inherent fragility of authoritarian regimes, or both. I'm not making a joke about their over-sensitivity, it's a real thing that all companies must deal with there.
Apple basically told the US Government point blank: no; on something important to the Feds. What happened to Apple in consequence? Nothing. Try that with China. They'd probably love an excuse to kick Apple out, even if briefly, to bolster their domestic alternatives (doing it briefly is ideal, because it might make it nearly impossible for Apple to recover lost market share, and then China gets to pretend they're still open to Apple's products after the damage is done).
I wonder if people from Huawei and HTC have a different point of view there?
Qantas just folded over CCP pressure to change their stance on calling Taiwan a nation rather than a territory.  China is really sensitive about this and pushes its influence heavily on this particular point.
This is a well-known cost of being able to do business in China; the version of your product for sale/use in the PRC cannot in any way acknowledge the existence of Taiwan/ROC as a separate entity. Most vendors simply have localization switches which hide/re-label Taiwan in location selectors, use some icon other than the flag to let users select the zh-TW localization, re-label any displayed maps, etc.
IIRC Microsoft got in trouble years and years ago for a mistake in code they shipped, which accidentally displayed either "Taiwan" or the flag in a build of software for use in the PRC.
This has been the case for many, many years. Most HN readers probably just don't deal often enough with localization issues to realize how politically sensitive they can be, and how easily even a small misstep can get you in trouble with a government.
I feel like plenty of countries manage just fine. My app is not blocked and I am not arrested in greece for referencing 'Macedonia' in a list of countries.
Hell I could go round making hilariously wrong UI borderline offensive like including goa as part of portugal or canada as part of the UK and people would think im silly sure but not ban the company althogether...
I would be interested in any examples not related to the chinese government or thai lese majeste laws. Also perhaps not obvious ones like map border disagreements.
That's where a lot of them come from.
According to your app, which country is a resident of these places living in:
* The Crimean peninsula?
One of these has been the subject of a US Supreme Court case recently.
What's your app's stance on the status of Catalonia? Does your list of countries include Kosovo? What about Transnistria? The Donetsk People's Republic?
Do you have users in Argentina? If so, do you make sure to refer to that island group as "Malvinas" instead of "Falklands"?
I can assure you that none of these examples are regarded as "silly" by the people involved, or by some major governments.
Could I get away with listing "Cultures" and "Dialects" rather than "Countries" and "Languages"?
Hong Kong is a part of China, and still has its own flag, passport, currency, and linguistic identity. The only caveat is that you have to call it a "region". So if you have a drop-down with China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, you simply prefix it "Country or region", and nobody can technically be offended.
We're all so used to ISO standards that we assume they are politically neutral. That's why everyone starts their weekend project with the ISO 3166 country list that includes "Taiwan, Province of China"   .
This list is crap. It follows UN country names, and the UN is not a neutral entity. It isn't even logical that "Hong Kong" can stand on its own in the list, but Taiwan has to be suffixed with "Province of China". As far as I know, no major website uses this list unmodified. (The airlines that recently bowed to PRC pressure now call it "Taiwan, China").
If you see the "Province of China" label on a website, you should refer its developer to the Unicode CLDR data: http://cldr.unicode.org/index
The CLDR data is the actual industry standard, and tries to be as neutral as possible.
Only when they are sure that the government really can't punish them for it, and it gets them good PR. When dealing with a government that will ban the sales of the iPhone in that country, they roll over and make sure they do whatever they need to do to have friendly relations with them.
They also said they’d do what the US government required. They didn’t like the idea of the gov being able to unlock any phone and lobbied against it but said they’d follow the law if it exists.
However because it’s China and Taiwan it’s a “thing“ because there’s a very heavy political angle.
My original comment was meant to point out that Apple isn’t hypocritical here as many people want to claim. They said they’d do the exact same kind of things here if required by US law.
Well that's not true. You specifically said "lobbied against" in your post. "Exact same things" would mean exactly the same reticence. That's where the hypocrisy lies.
But once it’s a law they lose the choice.
> they need to do to have friendly relations with them
Yep. That sure do...
Is there a list of these kinds of govt requests they choose to abide by?
No, they don't.
This isn’t true at all.
Corporations Don’t Have to Maximize Profits
Lynn Stout, the distinguished professor of corporate and business law at Cornell Law School, is the author of "The Shareholder Value Myth: How Putting Shareholders First Harms Investors, Corporations, and the Public."
A suit was filed recently naming Eddy Cue for violating anti-trust law relating to the settlement for the e-books case brought by the federal government.
Such as aidding and abetting authoritarian foreign governments to suppress freedom of speech.
I'm having a hard time understanding why you are having a hard time understanding why this is cowardly, given that Apple is not particularly cowardly when it decided to stand up to US government surveillance.
Most users are probably never subject to government intervention and they are still protected by the encryption from thiefs, evil ISPs and other bad actors. If Apple would pull out completely and get banned in the country they'd maybe have to switch to other companies that are not that privacy minded.
Are you saying that Apple China—a Chinese corporation, Apple Corp.'s subsidiary—shouldn't be aiding and abetting its own (authoritarian) government?
Or are you saying that Apple Corp (a US company) should be attempting to compel Apple China to break Chinese law? (What do you think Apple China's response to this must, necessarily, be?)
Or are you saying that Apple China shouldn't exist?
I'm not sure there are any other alternatives than these, and none of them sound very sensible.
Second of all, even if it is a statute, you don't respect the law in China, you respect the MAN. What's legal and what's not depends on not the independent judiciary, as there isn't one, but how well your relationship is with key government officials.
Thirdly, all these world-wide subsidiary are there mainly for tax and payroll. Apple China does not operate independently as it's wholely owned by Apple US. Also, I don't know if you are aware, this is likely the decision made directly by Tim Cook if you've seen his activity in China recently.
The solution is very easy, appeal to Trump and I'm sure his ilks will go to work. You may not like Trump, but the outcome surely will be infinitely better than compromising your own core values and customer's trust.
Yes, so your first two paragraphs reduce to an argument over semantics. When I say "law in China", I mean "what you will be punished by the Chinese government for doing [whether for cronyist reasons or not]." It's "the law" in the Libertarian sense of "the whims of the people who can command people with guns to come shoot you without reproach."
> Thirdly, all these world-wide subsidiary are there mainly for tax and payroll. Apple China does not operate independently as it's wholely owned by Apple US.
Yes, that is how multinational corporations work in every other sense. That is not how multinational corporations work when it comes to interactions between the subsidiary and the subsidiary's government, because—and consider this carefully for a moment: the employees of the subsidiary corporation—including those operating its distribution logistics pipeline within China—are Chinese citizens.
Tim Cook can try telling these employees what to do, and in all other ways he'll succeed, but the Chinese government can override Tim Cook in this one way, because the people he's giving orders to here are Chinese, and are beholden to the Chinese government. They're not going to do something that's illegal for them personally to do, just because their boss tells them to. They'd just end up quitting, and the people who'd replace them would end up quitting, and so forth. And Tim Cook knows that, which is why he doesn't tell them to do things that the Chinese government would consider illegal.
Which includes, for those distribution-pipeline employees, distributing iOS devices that don't have Chinese-government-mandated modifications to the firmware. Those employees would be arrested for that. So Tim Cook orders his US employees to make the modifications to the firmware, such that those Chinese employees can then comply with the "law in China" when they distribute the phones. (Which is really to say, such that Apple retains Chinese employees at all.)
The only other choice he has (since "force your Chinese employees to get arrested" is not actually a workable strategy) is not distributing the phones in China in the first place.
Sure, he can try to get the "law in China" changed. Every corporation is always lobbying in every market they're in. But it doesn't usually work; if it did, we'd be living in a far more dystopian-corporatist world than we already do. ;)
Things would be different if Apple were found to be shipping firmware-level spyware like Huawei and ZTE phones. But for flag emoji? Who cares? That's an easy trade.
You are clearly drugged out of your mind by Apple's marketing machine. Who exactly uses iMessage in China? Everybody uses Wechat. Are you telling me iOS can protect Chinese users' privacy when the traffic go through their servers?
Also, Apple wouldn't die, no alone anyway. Foxconn and Apple would likely both die together. There's nothing scarier than 1000s of 1000s of laid off workers for the CCP.
> But for flag emoji? Who cares? That's an easy trade.
This is an extremely dangerous line of thought. Today you give them an inch, tomorrow they'll ask for a foot. It is exactly this kind of kautouing the West has given China in the past 20 years that led to its progressive erosion of universal values and leverage to safeguard those values across the world. When it comes to principles, espcially core values of a company, you don't compromise.
> Today you give them an inch, tomorrow they'll ask for a foot. It is exactly this kind of kautouing the West has given China in the past 20 years that led to its progressive erosion of universal values and leverage to safeguard those values across the world. When it comes to principles, espcially core values of a company, you
This is just absurd. It is not Apple's responsibility to represent the West nor do they actually represent the west. And I do not want them to represent the west.
It had nothing to do with "power" or positions of strength. They simply acted in the political environment they were in. Surprise surprise it's different in China.
Over half of all countries have few to no protections on freedom of speech. Is your premise that Apple should only sell its products in about four dozen countries? If we wanted to be really strict about it, only a few nations have strong protections on freedom of speech.
You are aware of just how bad the individual liberty protections are in the bottom 100+ countries, right? Freedom of speech protections are rare, and it's even more rare for them to be regularly enforced.
Major countries as diverse as Turkey, Singapore, Thailand, China, Russia, Venezuela, Sudan, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia - have no or very little freedom of speech. The bottom 40-50 nations on human rights barely have any actively enforced rights protections at all.
And no, I think Apple should sell to as many countries as possible, but not at a cost of compromising integrity and universal value. Apple should sell their products INTACT across the world.
I lived in US for quite some time and travel to US regularly. But seriously, I feel much less safe or comfortable when I am in US, and a lot of things Americans care so much about doesn't mean anything
Also, makes you wonder if China's censorship might play any role in this lack of interest in discussing things...
Heck, maybe they're not so stupid these Chinese rulers! But of course that's only for the best interest of the Chinese citizens, right, dear Chinese citizen?
And yes it would be right in general to avoid doing business with authoritarian countries.
Of course it ought to be a country-wide policy, but even if it's not it's still more ethical for a company to do so.
The "theory" that trade fosters democracy has been tested for long enough.
I think that public disagreement consistent with their principles regardless of region would be appropriate. I don't think many are asking them to not sell or not abide by the law, just that their pinciples ring hollow if they only voice them against certain governments.
> The courts will defer to erroneous business judgments, provided that the officers or directors did not show gross negligence in their review and decision-making process. Without this rule in place, many individuals would be unwilling to serve as officers and directors and business people might be reluctant to take commercial risks that could benefit a corporation in the long run.
Some would argue - me included - that morally, only just laws must be followed.
That you draw such equivalence may be why you have a hard time understanding.
Apple could leave the US in that case, but if they stay they have to follow the law. Whether they do it loudly or not is irrelevant.
If you replace the word "Apple" with "Microsoft" or "Red Hat" or "Canonical", would you still be as outraged?
China Hing Kong and China Mainland was always a separate entity.
China Hong Kong Google site still remains blocked in China mainland (last I checked), because Google refuses to comply with China laws regarding privacy.
Google has other business interest that doesn't require direct access to customer data and products that can be only developed for Chinese consumers.
Google remains the only major company in the world that I know of that refused to do business with China over privacy concern.
As for the first part, explain to me how Google values privacy when it circumvented Safari’s built in privacy protection and was fined for it. So how does your argument make sense?
Google Play store does not work on China, Apple app store works.
Edit: You completely changed your original comment I replied to. That put my comment out of context. That's a very douchy move, esp you didn't mention that you changed your comment.
Still I think it would have been better for Chinese citizens if Google had found a way to continue operating in China, even if partially censored. It's not good for humanity when the largest country in the world becomes increasingly inwards-directed.
But this crash is a bit convenient. It smells to me like a teenager complying with the letter of the rules. Their QA, although awful recently, surely would have picked up this crash?
So maybe Apple deliberately made the code crap to telegraph the fact they'd been coerced into writing the code? Assuming they'd been told by PRC to not give specifics of what they had to comply with?
If Apple wanted the world to know, they would simply release a statement.
And they'll gladly throw users privacy under the bus in China by forking over iCloud China to a government backed/owned cloud.
The next time they pretend moral superiority over some obviously inane topic, like protecting a terrorist, best get a supeona from China.
I don't see why a non-state actor like Apple should try to act like the State Department.
For reference, I've been to Taiwan. Beautiful country. Censoring their flag in China is a cheesy move on China (and Apple's) part. But again, I'll take that in exchange for the other pro-privacy victories Apple can make.
As for the second sentence, iMessage isn't iCloud. And even if the iMessage data is stored in the same data center (which I have no idea), it's end-to-end encrypted so that doesn't help China.
iMessage isn't iCloud, but iMessages are stored in iCloud, Apple also stores iCloud encryption keys in China.
To buttress your belief, is there any circumstance where they didn't cave to requests from the Chinese government? Or anywhere where they publicly disagreed at least? Honest question as I'm unsure if it has ever happened.
> To buttress your belief, is there any circumstance where they didn't cave to requests from the Chinese government?
I don't see how I could have an answer to that question, because Apple doesn't publicize the times that China asks them to do something and they say no. I would certainly imagine that China has probably asked them to break the encryption on iMessage.
Things like ammunition for the government is different, but in general, goods and services offered to people anywhere usually makes both sides be better off, because that's why people trade: they're both happy with what they receive. Refusing to cooperate because of something that the trading partner (such as an individual in China) cannot easily change... that's not unlike selecting based on someone's skin color.
The world's economy has been inter-connected for some time; some part of that computer or phone that you're typing that on, is probably made in China.
(I am not from the USA by the way, so don't worry about offending me or anything!)
Even though the US does participate to some degree (vast homeless populations, the whole separating families at the border thing, etc), it's no where near the scale/magnitude that you see in China.
China is not good but the US has zero ground on to say it's better.
If you are a business operating in either nation you are actively participating in human rights abuses or you close down ala Lavabit
#1 The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world and the largest total prison population on the entire globe.
#2 According to NationMaster.com, the United States has the highest percentage of obese people in the world.
#3 The United States has the highest divorce rate on the globe by a wide margin.
#4 The United States is tied with the U.K. for the most hours of television watched per person each week.
#5 The United States has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.
#6 There are more car thefts in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world by far.
#7 There are more reported rapes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.
#8 There are more reported murders in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.
#9 There are more total crimes in the United States each year than anywhere else in the world.
#10 The United States also has more police officers than anywhere else in the world.
#11 The United States spends much more on health care as a percentage of GDP than any other nation on the face of the earth
#12 The United States has more people on pharmaceutical drugs than any other country on the planet.
#13 The percentage of women taking antidepressants in America is higher than in any other country in the world.
#14 Americans have more student loan debt than anyone else in the world.
#15 More pornography is created in the United States than anywhere else on the entire globe. 89 percent is made in the U.S.A. and only 11 percent is made in the rest of the world.
#16 The United States has the largest trade deficit in the world every single year. Between December 2000 and December 2010, the United States ran a total trade deficit of 6.1 trillion dollars with the rest of the world, and the U.S. has had a negative trade balance every single year since 1976.
#17 The United States spends 7 times more on the military than any other nation on the planet does. In fact, U.S. military spending is greater than the military spending of China, Russia, Japan, India, and the rest of NATO combined.
#18 The United States has far more foreign military bases than any other country does.
#19 The United States has the most complicated tax system in the entire world.
#20 The U.S. has accumulated the biggest national debt that the world has ever seen and it is rapidly getting worse. Right now, U.S. government debt is expanding at a rate of $40,000 per second.
Some of these points I see backing up the issue about China and the US being equivalent morally, based on US morals, but other points don't fit that view.
I don't see much difference morally
This reminds me of the time when the Taliban were all driving stolen Toyota trucks and congress asked them to explain why they were aiding terrorism. The makers of the automatic rifles they were carrying were never even mentioned of course.
I'd also wager the AKs didn't.
I'm not making a case either way, I'm not entirely sure what your argument is.
My point isn't to say China is good, only that participating in human rights abuses and authoritarianism are endemic to all the major powers and there's no point in singling China out here. If you're working for the government chances are you're working for an organization that is authoritarian and abuses human rights.
> that's not the only thing that matters
Maybe, but you prefer to ignore it altogether when equating China and US
I use the Chinese keyboard as a very rudimentary Mandarin speaker. Does this mean the Chinese government was still getting information on my chat history even though I'm a US citizen?!
"You got, like, Charlottesville, you have scenes in Palestine, Standing Rock,"  was edited to, "You got, like, Charlottesville, you have...Standing Rock."