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iPhone crashing bug likely caused by code added to appease Chinese government (arstechnica.com)
215 points by bangonkeyboard 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 135 comments



The original blog post is https://objective-see.com/blog/blog_0x34.html and has more technical information.


I thought Apple was supposed to be the great government-resistant pro-user-rights stronghold.

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.


> Is the word "Taiwan" such a bad word in China that, instead of some reasonable action, it crashes the OS?

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...


> 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).


> The US isn't going to arbitrarily blockade Apple's market access over the screenlock conflict.

I wonder if people from Huawei and HTC have a different point of view there?


I’d rather they hide some keys in some countries than give away my secrets to government agencies. It doesn’t compare at all.


According to the CCP, there is no Taiwanese flag. Taiwan is just part of China.

Qantas just folded over CCP pressure to change their stance on calling Taiwan a nation rather than a territory. [1] China is really sensitive about this and pushes its influence heavily on this particular point.

[1]: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-04/qantas-to-refer-to-tai...


What happens when someone else sends you the Taiwanese flag emoji?


(CCP is Chinese Communist Party, for anyone else wondering.)


Thanks, sorry, I should try to remember to clarify my acronyms when I write posts.


As others noted, it appears Apple was attempting to keep the Taiwan flag emoji (🇹🇼) out of the emoji keyboard depending on localization settings.

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.


"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.


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:

* Kashmir?

* The Crimean peninsula?

* Jerusalem?

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.


Can you list "Taiwan" as an entry if you don't really care about countries per se, but are just making a big list of states/provinces/territories/other small "cultural" boundaries? Whether or not Taiwan is a country, and whether or not Taiwanese is a language, Taiwan is certainly a place, containing a number of people; and those people certainly speak a mutually-unintelligible dialect of Chinese.

Could I get away with listing "Cultures" and "Dialects" rather than "Countries" and "Languages"?


I think calling Taiwan a separate culture would make it worse from a PRC point of view (and for the many Taiwanese who don't speak Taiwanese). The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, just like in the PRC. Many people on both sides of the strait speak mutually intelligible dialects at home. There's no clear difference between both countries in that regard.

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.


Some things seem to get away with "Taiwan, Province of China".


Oh, thanks for mentioning this. This phrasing is mostly a rookie developer trap!

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" [1] [2] [3].

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.

[1] https://github.com/rails/country_select [2] https://gist.github.com/DHS/1340150 [3] https://pypi.org/project/django-countries/


Win 95 had a time zone map, but after numerous countries (not just China) with border disputes demanded changes they removed the feature entirely.


> I thought Apple was supposed to be the great government-resistant pro-user-rights stronghold.

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.


And the country is big enough. Maybe they’d stand their ground against Liechtenstein but China is WAY too important.

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.


So for consistency, surely we can read the blog post against similar issues like requiring icloud data locality? Otherwise, we need to be very clear where you're even allowed to publicly disagree or not.


This seems like a sort of standard country customization/localization thing that just happened to have a bug in it.

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.


> 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.


Because it’s not US law yet. In the past they’ve talked to the Chinese government about why they think possible policy X is a problem too.

But once it’s a law they lose the choice.


Not just ban the sale of iPhones in China - they could potentially stop the manufacture of all iPhones (and every other bit of Apple hardware).

> they need to do to have friendly relations with them

Yep. That sure do...


Possibly also related - the phones are made there too.


Does Apple hide the Israeli flag for users in Saudi Arabia etc?

Is there a list of these kinds of govt requests they choose to abide by?


"Does Apple hide the Israeli flag for users in Saudi Arabia etc?"

No, they don't.


It's not like Apple removed all traces of "Taiwan" from iOS. They are simply trying to comply with the local laws of China, which unfortunately is the cost of doing business there. You can still set your keyboard or/and language settings to Chinese (Taiwan)


Sure, companies have to adapt to markets. But inserting code like this, buggy or not, is a cowardly act by Apple. They should be ashamed, and apologize.


I'm having a hard time understanding what is cowardly about complying with Chinese law when selling products inside China. There are many laws in the US I don't agree with, but I'm obligated to comply with them for as long as I choose to live here and remain a citizen. For example, its essentially US law that Apple's officers have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholder's best interests. Not participating in the Chinese cellular market over principle violates that principal of law. If you want Apple to be "brave" then persuade the US Congress to require that Apple not comply with repressive Chinese law; or convince Apple's shareholders to prohibit the same. Short of those outcomes Apple is doing precisely what its supposed to be doing.


> For example, its essentially US law that Apple's officers have a fiduciary responsibility to shareholder's best interests. Not participating in the Chinese cellular market over principle violates that principal of law.

This isn’t true at all.


More info for those curious:

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."

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/04/16/what-are-co...


Aren't shareholders and investors the same thing?


Yes, so the title is saying they too will be harmed by "putting them first".


Except that it is true that directors face lawsuits about breaches of fiduciary duty frequently enough for it to be not uncommon.

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.

http://investor.apple.com/secfiling.cfm?filingID=1193125-18-...


The problem is getting sued in itself is meaningless. PETA could sue Tyson Foods by arguing that selling meat is a longterm liability. They would lose badly and quickly.


I was replying in reference to directors having fiduciary duties.


> Apple is doing precisely what its supposed to be doing.

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.


That is such a simplistic view of things. Do you think they'd do it if there was another way? At that scale things are not that easy and you can't just break the law even if it feels "right" to you.

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.


Well traditionally tech companies leave open gaps for the average Joe to do the law breaking themselves. If the concept of Taiwan is illegal then it would be a add-on available from other sources. Given how closed source and how rudimentary text input is to an OS I do not know how feasible this is for an IPhone.


A multinational corporation is not actually one thing. It's a distinct entity per country, that all pretends to be one global entity, but isn't.

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.


First of all, read your history and news. You don't have to go far, just go back a few years when the Chinese government were blocking the App Store. This isn't a law, this is literally just some arbitrary decision passed down in a piece of paper from the top.

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.


> 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.

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. ;)


Apple is in a position of strength in the USA and a position of weakness in China. Apple could choose to die on this hill, and all it would accomplish would be to deprive Chinese consumers of the strongest privacy-protecting mobile phone choice.

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.


> Apple could choose to die on this hill, and all it would accomplish would be to deprive Chinese consumers of the strongest privacy-protecting mobile phone choice

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.


You're essentially asking Apple to adjust how they deal in China, potentially losing a market and manufacturing center, because in your opinion, China should acknowledge Taiwan's sovereignty. Not everyone agrees with that.

> 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.


May I remind you that Apple's core value is protection of user's privacy. They are compromising their own core values.


I fail to see how changing a flag due to localization has anything to do with privacy at all.


What is a "universal value"?


When you only speak out when you're in a position of strength, that is cowardly.


They spoke out because legally they were allowed to do so. Our government is founded on things like this. We have courts and representatives that we ultimately control.

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.


> Such as aidding and abetting authoritarian foreign governments to suppress freedom of speech.

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.


Speaking of naivety, if selling to Chinese customers is the most important thing Apple has to worry about, banning Apple products would incense Chinese users. It's the lost of their manufacturing capabilities that's of concern.

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.


As a regular Chinese citizen, freedom of speech is at the bottom of list of things I care about, and I would happily sell that for profit if it is sell-able.

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


Wow, I would've never thought that being raised in a decades-old dictatorship could effect one's world view...

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?


Those countries might be diverse, but they accidentally happen to be all authoritarian or authoritarian-leaning countries...

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.


> Is your premise that Apple should only sell its products in about four dozen countries?

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 don't review normal business judgements. Even when there is a fiduciary duty. If that wasn't true then no one would want to risk being a officer because they would be constantly getting sued by upset shareholders.

> 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.

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fiduciary-responsibi...


> I'm obligated to comply with them for as long as I choose to live here and remain a citizen.

Some would argue - me included - that morally, only just laws must be followed.


> I'm having a hard time understanding what is cowardly about complying with Chinese law when selling products inside China. There are many laws in the US I don't agree with, but I'm obligated to comply with them for as long as I choose to live here and remain a citizen.

That you draw such equivalence may be why you have a hard time understanding.


Do you agree that if Congress passes a law that bans phone encryption, Apple would have to comply with it? Yes or no?


Not quietly and without disagreement, no. And not a ban on an image of a flag or name of a disputed country, no. These equivalences are getting ridiculous and I'm beginning to believe the only justification for constantly bringing them up is to distract from the issue at hand.


You mean that one can have its own interpretation of the law and follow the rules which they see fit? This is anarchy.

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.


Merriam-Webster defines "ban" as "to prohibit especially by legal means". I don't see the problem.

If you replace the word "Apple" with "Microsoft" or "Red Hat" or "Canonical", would you still be as outraged?


but they are champion of privacy or something like that. And google who walked out of China because they refused to bend to their rules are the bad guys.


You do know that Hong Kong is technically part of China, right?


You do know Hong Kong is very different from China right? It's a separate jurisdiction, economy, language, culture etc...


Yes, which is why Google is still operating in Hong Kong, which is part of China, which is my point. Your's?


Just having a point is not good enough. It needs to make some sense.

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.


So your argument is that Google values privacy, so it doesn’t operate in China. But if it were to operate in China, it has to obey Chinese laws. Agree or disagree?

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?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/aug/09/google-re...


No that doesn't make sense at all. You don't seem to understand the difference.

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-between-AOSP-...

https://www.quora.com/Will-Android-phones-work-well-in-China

Google Play store does not work on China, Apple app store works.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/17/google-misses-out-on-billion...

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.


BTW, here’s a bonus question. Explain how the “champion of privacy that doesn’t operate in China” collects Android users’ locations even when location services are disabled. The practice was stopped only when they got caught, and this only happened last year.

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


I copy-pasted the wrong reply to the window, and corrected it while you were formulating your reply. There’s no way to edit a comment once it has been replied to, so there’s no way for me to put an edit reason. But thanks for the ad hominen attack.


Getting out of China is a move by Google I still admire. Perhaps “the old Google” but they never reversed that decision for the shareholders.


I thought they moved out because they were having difficulty getting penetration?


Upvoted you. Google is still operating in Hong Kong, which is part of China.


Today you learned: even though you think Google is "out" of China, the borders and labels displayed in Google Maps still change if viewed from within China (and for many other countries, too, depending on their stances in territorial disputes):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9ZMub2UrKU


Google had a (rightful) chip on their shoulder after they discovered Gmail had been targeted and hacked by the Chinese government.

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.


I don't understand why China didn't just send a National Security Letter and request the information that way.


'cause it has no reason to copy what US government would do


Countries like Saudi and UAE have 'similar' software requests. Frequently they will request any map software either blanks out or overwrites Israel.


Because of Apple's kowtow to China, human beings will be imprisoned, tortured, and executed from information gleaned from Apple devices. Not just common criminals but political and religous dissidents. I would imagine the other cell phone choices available are just as bad, but does that make it ethical to be part of CCP's surveilance?


They didn't even bother to swap the Taiwanese flag emoji with a custom one of the Chinese Taipei flag:

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


So hang on a bit here - i'm not an Apple fan, don't use their phones, ditched my MacBook etc.

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?


Knowing fully that they would be heavily criticized for complying? I think not.

If Apple wanted the world to know, they would simply release a statement.


Apple is generally full of shit. They'll refuse to unlock a terrorist's phone in the US but will get on all fours for the Chinese government's absurdly unreasonable requests.

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.


Reminds me of a method found in the SharePoint SDK called HideTaiwan() [1]

[1] https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/previous-versions/office/de...

beebmam 3 months ago [flagged]

Cooperating with China is cooperating with authoritarianism and human rights abuses.


So what's the US's (and the world's) excuse post Nixon's visit to China? The world could have easily continued to isolate China like they do North Korea today.

I don't see why a non-state actor like Apple should try to act like the State Department.


Money, obviously.


I don't know the exact status of iOS in China, but, for example, if iMessage still works there and iOS is still secure then personally I'd call it a victory. Being able to provide a dystopian society with privacy, end-to-end encryption, etc, at the cost of censoring a flag. "Ends justifying the means", etc, etc. We all know the arguments. But the real world is messy.

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.


Nobody uses iMessage in China because SMS is expensive. iCloud data in China is stored in a datacenter in China where the Chinese government can access any data any time they want with no warrant whatsoever.


iMessage isn't SMS so I don't understand your first sentence. That's like saying "Nobody sends email because postal stamps are expensive".

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.


I meant that because iMessage fallback to SMS and you don't know if sending an iMessage to someone will go through iMessage or SMS which might cost you money, that's why nobody uses iMessage.

iMessage isn't iCloud, but iMessages are stored in iCloud, Apple also stores iCloud encryption keys in China. See https://techcrunch.com/2018/02/25/apple-moves-icloud-encrypt...


it’s pretty easy to disable the fallback


If Apple needs to comply with China's demands, do you think that Apple would refuse to break encryption if China requested it?


Yes. I think Apple would disable iMessage in China entirely before breaking its encryption.


I disagree. But say the option wasn't to disable imessage, but rather break the encryption or stop selling in China? Or stop using your own encrypted icloud storage and use one run by China or stop selling 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.


China can't mandate that Apple run an unencrypted messaging system in China. They could demand that Apple not run an encrypted one, but it would be complete nonsense to say "you must operate a message network or you can't sell phones!"

> 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.


Your response only contributes to the problem, not the solution. If we share wealth (rather than refusing to cooperate or even starting a war to "free" the poor people (war always knows at least one losing side, often two)), the people will be able to have a better life than if we do not. If we refuse to cooperate at all, we shouldn't trade and send things like iPhones (in this case) at all. Sure, they can build their own, but we already have them. Why reinvent the wheel? It goes the same for all other goods and services.

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.


And this is how extremism wins.

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.


Would you please not post flamebait to HN threads and especially not nationalistic flamebait? These discussions are all the same and don't belong on this site.

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


So much bullshit. As a Chinese citizen that lived in America for a long time, I found US government being so much worse than China.


I'm curious because I don't know a lot about China (other than what Western media reports, which is colored): what was worse in the USA compared to China in terms of government, oppression, etc.?

(I am not from the USA by the way, so don't worry about offending me or anything!)


Can't agree more


Wow. That's retarded.


So is working with the US, or Britain, or like 90% of the governments in the world (hell, probably closer to 100%)


It's bad to ignore countries who are actively participating in human rights abuses, but it's not nearly as bad as actively participating in human rights abuses.

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.


The US has the largest number of imprisoned citizens despite China and India having populations that are multiples larger as well as how the US deals with collateral damage with things like drone strikes, actual concentration camps for children after it was taught in schools about how bad it was last time the US put japanese in camps, police black sites in Chicago, and various other abuses.

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.


I'm not really sure about the point of this post? What are you getting at?

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.


In China, they just kill many potential prisoners rather than, you know, inprisioning them. So if you want to compare some unrelated metric, go ahead.


In America they just enslave them and have them work dangerous jobs.

I don't see much difference morally


Let's just forget Guantanamo, Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam, South America, etc. and just focus on the recent border thing, that is way way tamer than what China has done or is doing you know. The truth is there's plenty of guilt to go around many times over probably centuries back in both cases, but let's blame a cellphone company for oppression, that seems logical.

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.


Because they were Klashinkakovs, a Russian design and not made by the American War Machine.


Toyota is not an American company.


I'd wager the trucks came from Texas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Motor_Manufacturing_Tex...)

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.


That factory is mainly for the american market. The trucks paramilitary groups love is the Toyota Hilux, not sold nor produced in the US.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyota_Hilux#Use_by_militant_g...


I mean, you could make an argument that the UK or Germany might not participate as much as China, but the US is certainly one of the world leaders in stomping on human rights. Forget the homeless population and separating families, just look at our mass incarceration programs. We have something like five times the percentage of our population in prison as opposed to China.

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.


It's very easy to criticise US from the high moral ground of your home, where your safety and freedom are guaranteed by the same US of A. But let me ask you: would you rather be a dissident in China or an anti-establishment protester in US?


My safety and freedom aren't guaranteed, they are rewarded by me working in a lucrative job. If I wasn't fortunate to have the career I do there would be no safety or freedom. I'll agree it's easier to be critical of the US in the US as opposed to being critical of China in China but that's not the only thing that matters if you're talking about authoritarianism and human rights abuses.


Nothing is guaranteed, however I can't see how this leads to US - China equivalency w.r.t human rights.

> that's not the only thing that matters Maybe, but you prefer to ignore it altogether when equating China and US


Ya know we kill people in Afghanistan and other countries indiscriminately. Where’s their safety and freedom?


[flagged]


This breaks the site guidelines. Please read and follow them when commenting here, regardless of how wrong you think another comment is.

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


-Sent from my iPhone. Made in China.


As a bonus Apple should add a bug that crashes US-region messenger every time someone types Trump or reads Trump's tweets :)


> (his friend’s phone specified the region as the US and the language as English, followed by Chinese.)

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?!


it's not a keylogger -- it's a simple "if" branch to hide the Taiwan flag from the emoji set.


do they hide offensive emoji's in other countries? would the hide the Israeli flag for phones sold in Middle Eastern countries? I would love to find a published list of what Apple does censor to accommodate specific country or regional issues.


Apple Music literally disappeared scenes and mentions of Palestine from a Vic Mensa music video and interview.

"You got, like, Charlottesville, you have scenes in Palestine, Standing Rock," [0] was edited to, "You got, like, Charlottesville, you have...Standing Rock." [1]

[0] https://itunes.apple.com/us/post/sa.e79e61c0-f89d-11e7-8829-...

[1] https://twitter.com/Beats1/status/952952704564838400


Now that's plain weird. I mean, I kind of get why Apple pulled the Taiwanese flag from the emoji set (Foxconn etc.), but what kind of pressure does Israel have on Apple?


You are looking at it from a leverage perspective, but this is about PR.


I would feel less intellectually dishonest if plain text were unaffected (but the country in question were simply removed from the spelling suggestions), and if the Emoji were replaced with a hyperlinked reference and some kind of 'censored' emoji instead. The reference should be to a page explaining that in compliance with (links to guidelines / official diplomatic requests here) content that is required to be censored by the regulating authorities in a given region has been redacted.


Probably, but that's unrelated to what the article is about. :-P




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