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Apple Hides Taiwan Flag in Hong Kong (emojipedia.org)
1456 points by pulisse on Oct 7, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 686 comments

Can anyone actually validate that this news is true?

I live in Hong Kong and have the latest iOS updates. I still have the Taiwanese flag... same for all my colleagues, both on personal and work phones.

I am from Hong Kong, I can confirm that Taiwanese flag is not displayed in original Emoji keyboard (still appear in third-party keyboard like kaiboard). I am using HK region apple id and latest ios version

Also I can confirm. Friend of mine was in China and bought iPhone XR dual sim. And now lives at hometown – Moscow, Russia. Russian interface, Russian region is installed. But Taiwan flag is completely missing: in chats, web and keyboard.

That's important. It would be dismaying if this story spent an entire day at #1 on Hacker News and turned out not to be true.

It affects device models with “CN” or with “ZA” set as region:


It is also limited to just the keyboard and not enforced in 3rd party apps or websites:


How do you check this CN/ZA settings? I have an iPhone bought in HK, region set to “Hong Kong” (General -> Language & Region), iOS 13.1.2 and I see the Taiwanese flag in emojis. I test with the built in emoji keyboard in the “Notes” app.

Our phones are Taiwan models and we can reproduce it. Which iPhone do you have? If it still has the ZP region for Hong Kong instead of ZA region it will not be impacted. More here on it:


I see, I just checked, mine has the ZP region (Hong Kong & Macau), so that would explain why I still have the Taiwanese flag.

I can't verify this part first hand, but they indicate in the article that before the 2018 model iPhone XS was released, the region code of Hong Kong was “ZP,” but it was changed to “ZA” after the newer model iPhone XS was released.

So users with newer devices would be impacted.

I managed to find a colleague with a newer iPhone, with ZA in the model, and Hong Kong as Region. The flag appears when language is set to English but disappears when language is set to Traditional Chinese (Cantonese). The conditions to have the flag disappear are not that widespread though, but the news is indeed real :-)

This reminds me of the story about how the first release of Windows 95 was banned in India because 8 pixels of the map shown in the timezone selection control panel were colored in such a way that suggested parts of Kashmir were part of Pakistan.



It’s one thing for India to censor something for a stupid reason.

It makes me uncomfortable to have China be able to influence all these other global countries into global (or in this case localized) censorship. Hollywood, News Companies, anything else that China invests heavily has no choice but to fall in line with the censorship.

Agree completely. PRC comes across a lot like a spoiled, entitled brat. Such behavior should never go unchecked otherwise we are enabling it.

On another note, it was refreshing to see South Park creators giving some love to Chinese censorship.


Yes, this reminds me of a similar, but more general argument:

Free economics tends to promote liberal democracy.

This is debatable of course. Historical patterns are complex:


Free economics promote colonialism too.

That makes no sense. Colonialism effectively stopped before free economics was a thing.

Colonialism (imperialism, more accurately) didn’t slow down much until WWII. Even in the 70s Portugal still controlled its African colonies and fought them in wars of independence.

What the gp is referencing is the argument that the concept of free trade has only obfuscated colonialism. Rather than colonialism by France or UK it’s colonialism by Nestle or De Beers. To someone harvesting cacao for $2/day nothing is materially different from living under colonialism, except their landowner might be some well-connected member of the regime rather than a European.

> What the gp is referencing is the argument that the concept of free trade has only obfuscated colonialism. Rather than colonialism by France or UK it’s colonialism by Nestle or De Beers. To someone harvesting cacao for $2/day nothing is materially different from living under colonialism, except their landowner might be some well-connected member of the regime rather than a European.

Ironically, China shows you exactly why that comparison is absurd. Colonial powers carefully controlled production to keep colonies from moving up the value chain. Indian raw materials were gathered by Indian labor, shipped to Britain, finished, and shipped back to India. Foreign direct investment, by contrast, allowed countries like China and South Korea to rapidly move up the value chain. Foreign investors get a return when the foreign company moves up the value chain, even if that takes business away from a company in the investor’s own country.

I’m surprised Trump’s trade war has not “escalated” to banning the Chinese emoji yet...

Related to the original discussion, I wonder if there's a story behind how Taiwan got a emoji flag in the first place. Unicode Consortium referenced ISO 3166 for eligibility. Taiwan and a few other disputed regions didn't the cut until 3166-2 revision. The maintenance agency consists of representative from only western agencies. Interesting politics.

Isn't there a pretty objective and non-political case that Taiwan is it's own country? It has its own laws and government, and has presided over its own affairs for more than 50 years. Whether the CCP wishes this was not the case doesn't affect the reality on the ground.

You must be new to this dispute. Personally I tend to agree with you but in the international game of power politics, stating explicitly what is implicitly clear to everyone can have large repercussions.

All politics is a charade to some extent, a social game humans play to achieve a result which we can't really get to otherwise; international politics is simultaneously more obviously a charade and precisely the place where keeping up the charade is most important, because the consequences are far more present.

In national politics, there's a government and that government has a police force and a military. Regardless of which political party or coalition is in control, the government goes on, day to day, running things, which includes holding elections, the magic which gives legitimacy to the process. As long as elections are real, the people are mostly willing to go along with it, so the consequences of utterly disregarding legitimacy remain remote.

International politics has no such entity, or at least none that has sufficient recognition. Therefore, it is essential that everyone play along with the norms, because deviating from those norms is more likely to spark a war.

Ultimately, a country is what a majority recognize as such; before you go away, however, consider how long you'd live if you insisted you were human but couldn't get anyone else to agree with you.

Can you unpack what you mean by ‘charade’...? In particular, why did you choose that word? Are you suggesting it is fake? Fake in what sense?

One useful definition of politics is this: systems and behavior that result from people disagreeing without violence.

Politics can occur in convincing a group of people where to go to dinner, that your technical idea is worthy of effort, or that a President must be held accountable to the rule of law.

> Can you unpack what you mean by ‘charade’...? In particular, why did you choose that word? Are you suggesting it is fake? Fake in what sense?

I'm suggesting it's fake in the sense that it pretends things are real which are not physically real, like national boundaries and countries and other jurisdictions. Los Angeles County has no physical existence beyond the people who pretend it's real.

> One useful definition of politics is this: systems and behavior that result from people disagreeing without violence.

I agree with this, but it doesn't capture people pretending administrative jurisdictions exist. How taxes work is a good example of the charade becoming useful: Services have to be paid for, so taxes must be collected somehow. How do you do that without making people feel like they're paying for a lot of stuff they're not getting? By drawing lines on a map and saying that everyone who lives within those lines pays these taxes, and everyone who lives outside of those lines pays those taxes, and so on. Poof: You have a way to pay for things which gives people some kind of choice in the matter beyond just voting. That's important because other, more real, effects of the economy can determine which areas have rich people and which areas have poor people.

Taiwan was never under the control of the PRC, so... yeah.

Don't worry, there'll be a major war to settle the issue sometime this century, I would bet.

Not only a country but Taiwan is officially the Republic of China. The government of China under Chiang Kai-shek established itself in Taiwan. If anything Taiwan is China and the PRC is the remnants of a communist overthrow.

I guess this comes down to whether a country is its government or its people.

Well, sometimes it's the land or the resources on the land. Or religion, too. Shoot, this is getting tricky.

I beleive that the unicode consortium have chosen not to say much about witch flags are there pretty much for this reason. They don't want unicode to get mixed in with international politics.

It goes beyond that; technically, there are no flags in Unicode.

Instead, there are https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regional_Indicator_Symbol — an symbol-alphabet where any pair of successive symbols from the alphabet are meant to be considered a ligature (so, a space of 36^2 = 1296 possible ligatures), where a subset of these ligatures are considered valid representations of a locale from the Unicode's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Locale_Data_Repository.

Unicode doesn't say that you should render these CLDR-valid locale meta-codepoints as flags, though. It just says they're locales. In other words, it's up to a given font to decide whether to draw these as flags, and which of them to draw as flags.

With this move, they've abdicated the political determination over to, mostly, the OS manufacturers (since right now most OSes just have one OS emoji font that gets used for the graphical-pictograph-rendering process, rather than allowing user-installed emoji font-families.)

Personally, I like this choice. No matter what any government says, Taiwan is its own locale—it has its own time zone, clock and currency display formats, etc. Locales are locales no matter who declares ownership over them. Having "locale icons" rather than geopolitical-region flags is probably the most stable arrangement we can have, even if it means that some OSes will just render a particular locale-icon as nothing.

And for additional context, I believe every major OS vendor and many apps that bundle their own locale data have modifications on top of the stock CLDR database. Those modifications are mostly handled by legal teams, not by engineering.

> Having "locale icons" rather than geopolitical-region flags is probably the most stable arrangement we can have

Agreed. The only other way to draw locales would be to country outlines: which would most certainly open a Pandora's Box of socio political issues.

What Apple has effectively done by invalidating the locale, is to remove the Taiwanese language.

As an aside though: from a personal point of view there's quite a few emoji that I'd like to see hidden, such as the poop and middle finger. There's no need for such things, & yet this locale is removed? Weird politics.

What do you have against feces and expressions of disgust/contempt?

I would rather use words to describe whether something is a contemptible pile of guano, and these cutsie images are reducing our ability to eloquently and accurately communicate. A well placed, terse word can have far more impact and meaning than the 4yr old speak that emoji bring us to. Your username is a perfect example: it's hilarious.

Unicode is a lot like a dictionary, in that both things exist to allow people to work with documents that already exist, whether the tool likes it or not. Dictionaries let you understand existing texts, by defining the words in them. Unicode preserves and faithfully transmits existing texts, by defining and fixing the meanings of the codels of those texts.

Even if a dictionary didn't define a particular word, people would still use that word. You just wouldn't be able to find out what that word means from your dictionary. The word wouldn't be harmed; only the dictionary would be made less useful.

Likewise, even without an assigned codepoint for an emoji, people would still create encodings of it—in chat programs and the like. They'd just be proprietary encodings that wouldn't be able to be copied-and-pasted to other software, and would likely suffer bit-rot. (Can any program that exists today—and that runs on a modern computer—correctly parse out the emoji-like symbols from the binary transcript files of a 90s IM program like AIM or ICQ?) The emoji symbols—at least at the time—wouldn't be harmed by this (people would still use them just as often); only Unicode's goal of "one universal text encoding" would be harmed.

Compare also AUBERGINE and PEACH, which have both picked up alternate meanings to fill in for certain popular anatomical values that Unicode has elected not to define.

EDIT: seems HN removes emoji. I understand why, but it makes discussions like this one somewhat annoying.

EDIT: I've removed a somewhat vulgar reference to what those alternate meanings are, as it seems to have upset some people. I was trying to make a real point about how users will fill in the gaps when demand exists, even if Unicode omits them.

There is no truly neutral position though. Who gets the final say then?

Have you seen unicode? They usually err on the side of including everything, including, e.g., alphabets of fictional languages.

Those fictional languages' mere existence isn't perceived as a threat by any government, though.

Whoever renders the text. Since most applications delegate to the OS for that, it's typically the OS. The OS generally follows whatever the jurisdiction it's sold in requires. In theory an application could override it by doing custom rendering of these codepoints.

The unicode standard doesn't care, as explained above, since it just defines an alphabet and takes no position in which country/locale codes are to be rendered with a flag.

I think they err on the side of including flags in case of controversy, as there are flag emoji for Kosovo and Palestine. The main exception is North Cyprus, which just gets ignored.

Of course, when I set my region to Israel, the Palestine flag is still available. Likewise for Serbia and Kosovo.

Israel does not deny existence of Palestine state, they disagree about borders. It’s completely different from between PRC: PRC claims they are the only true China, and Taiwan should be a part of it.

Man that's crazy! They must've paid real close attention to it, but I think it's partly due to low resolution screens available in circa 1995. On a low-res screen, it's impossible to draw maps completely according to the borders, so this was probably inevitable and unintentional.

Inside Microsoft, there's a whole database of geopolitically-sensitive issues that have been accrued over the years. You can see all sorts of border disputes and differences in language that you had to take into account when working on global products.

On a related note, now you have movies with different scenes in China.



During my time at Microsoft I submitted a code review with an updated mapping library we got from a 3rd party. The auto review bot flagged the the changes with a "Geopolitical Issue" or something like that. Turned out it was an icon for Taiwan's flag.

I don't remember if we deleted the icon or just renamed it, but the product never ended up shipping, so it probably doesn't matter much.

At least 30% of my enjoyment of Venom came from it being set in SF and me going “Hey look I know that corner!” or “Wow we’ve been to that restaurant, they totally used a different place for that shop front!”

Seeing your town in a movie is incredibly rewarding. Just like a musician is basically required to shout “Hello $PLACE” at some point during a performance

PS: for the downvoters, that’s what the linked article cites as the reason that movie gets extra scenes in China. Chinese audiences liked seeing their city in a scene that Western audiences didn’t care about.

A good chunk of the latest Mission Impossible movie was this for me with Paris, especially with places where I've walked around, like the seat of the ministry of finance along the Seine. Of course the path taken didn't make any sense, but that wasn't much of an issue.

Also I had a reaction like "that's not how French cops operate when moving an inmate!"

There is also that the CCP won’t approve a movie for release in China unless it has Chinese scenes.

It's not the only conditions, there's also conditions like positive portrayal of the CCP gov and no Chinese as a bad guy and so on.

Yea, it's one of the fun things about living in New York. Me watching the first Avengers: How'd they get from Upper East to Washington Sq in like 20 seconds?

It's one of the terrible things about TV shows and movies in my opinion. So boring seeing NYC over and over again, not to mention all the inconsistencies that pull you out of the movie. I'm even tired of all the Apple TV screensavers of NYC/SF/Dubai.

Let's see some new places from South America or Africa or Europe or anywhere else.

And how do the protagonists in US TV series and films always just immediately get a parking spot just in front of their destination??

They have film permits, of course.

Maren Ade’s excellent movie “Toni Erdman” [1] from a few years ago was taking place in the city I live in, Bucharest, and one of the scenes was set in a mall at whose cinema Multiplex I actually saw the film. It was strange, when that scene came up I said to myself: “hey, this is happening just a few meters away from I where bought the popcorn”.

[1] https://m.imdb.com/title/tt4048272/?ref_=m_nmfmd_dr_1

One of my favourite Youtube channels, Every Frame A Painting, talks about this in Vancouver - except that the movies are rarely set in Vancouver:


You have movies where the country of the 'bad guys' was changed in post-production to North Korea to appease China: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Dawn_(2012_film)

Fawlty Towers when dubbed in Spain changed Manuel (a dumb waiter from Barcelona I think) to be Mexican.

But the Swedish Chef is still, surprisingly, the Swedish Chef in Sweden, which seems to be a cruel joke. https://slate.com/culture/2012/08/swedish-chef-what-do-swede...

In the Italian version of A Fish Called Wanda the mock-Italian is replaced with mock-Spanish.

I don't remember a lot about Looper but I feel like more exposition of JGL's "downward spiral" would have really helped clear things up for me -- for example, how anybody can go from looking like JGL to looking like 2010s Bruce Willis.

And they fixed the issue by making the highlight color the same as the normal color (so each pixel is still associated with a timezone/country) internally.

This later led to Poland going Atlantis, when MS removed its timezone instead of moving it to another timezone.



I wonder what would have happened if Microsoft just didn't listen to them. If they ban Windows over a petty reason like that, they're screwing over their own economy.

One simple approach would be to ban unmodified Windows sales and allow their companies to resell modified Windows distribution with changed resources.

It's something plenty of politicians everywhere have done over the years for things far more trivial than nationalism.

Microsoft employees in India would risk harsh punishments, including prison time.

I think they meant if Microsoft didn't change the map and went along with the ban, seeing as they mentioned the potential damage to the economy.

> Microsoft employees in India would risk harsh punishments, including prison time.

It's entirely pointless to copy and paste the comment I replied to instead of at least attempting to clarify in case I misunderstood.

Why would they face prison time for complying with the law?

They are not since pirated windows works just as good as licensed.

The craziest part of this article is the note at the end about airlines being forced to remove mention of Taiwan in order to do business in China. Went to Delta website to find a flight to Taipei, and sure enough every stop of trip lists city, state/country and for Taipei is just says:


According to the article, even this is still 'out of compliance,' because it should say 'Taipei, Taiwan China,' blown away this is how the booking page appears on the Delta website when loaded from the United States.

Makes me worry, localization takes effort, and effort often leads to blanket solutions that 'check everyone's boxes.' The most worrying examples of this in my opinion have been the superhero movies of the past decade. These blockbuster franchises were all written to accommodate distribution in China (and worldwide for that matter) as a goal. This led to simplified dialogues for translation, story lines that avoided pushing controversial buttons, and the result was a decade of moderately entertaining and decidedly safe cinema. Sure, blockbusters are not the best barometer for a nation's ability to push artistic boundaries, but they have historically spoken to the sentiments, dreams, and challenges of a time. Unfortunately with the sequels and superheros era, it seems the tone has been one of risk-averse idealism, which strikes me as a particularly low form of entertainment, entertainment that is truly disposable, unable and unwilling to stand the test of time. Possibly straying into problems with corporate consolidations, but I think it's all related as larger corporations tend to take smaller risks in efforts to appeal to broader audiences. If very few companies are able/willing to tell China no, censorship features become acceptable, and then they become normal, and then maintaining two branches becomes burdensome, so then censorship becomes the compliant option, and at that point the dream of technology empowering regular people to do amazing things, to become real superheros, fighting corruption, injustice and oppression, that dream will be truly dead. Think about how much things have changed since the Arab spring... it happens quickly.

I don’t see what the big deal is. Taiwan’s own passports say China on them.

I'm graciously assuming ignorance here. They say "Republic of China," which is the legal name of Taiwan. That is different from "People's Republic of China," which we in the west just call China.

Both “Taiwan” and “China” agree there is only one China and Taiwan is part of it, but they disagree on which government is legitimate :)

The current government of Taiwan actually openly disagrees with the one China policy [1]. This is a major reason China has ramped up their pressure on Taiwan.

[1] https://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/united-states/a...

The ROC “agrees” with that framing of the conflict in the sense that they recognize that the PRC has signalled that a good way to get the conflict to become an imminently mortal one would be to publicly disagree with that framing.

I'm not sure what ignorance you think I hold... both of them are "... of China". China being the entity disputed. It's not as if Delta is being made to make it say "Taipei, People's Republic of China".

In other news, when you were able to visit Google Maps in China you would see the Chinese view of the world where disputed regions are part of China, while the rest of the world would see something else.


To be fair, that's true elsewhere as well. They reflect the borders as they are officially recognized in the user's country.

This is true for every country in the world. Google Maps in the US displays borders/countries which the US government recognizes.

The U.S. doesn't recognize Taiwan as a state, but that's how it's typically shown in the U.S. Though it's also quite easy to see various alternatives. And Taiwan is hardly the only example of this.

The U.S. has no laws requiring specific depictions, nor does its government cajole movie producers to depict regions in certain ways. Many countries are similar. Map makers choose borders largely based on what they expect their audience wants or needs.

China is the only country in the world that requires Google Maps servers to be ran on Chinese government data centers by non-Google employees.

Korea has similar regulations:


If you zoom in on South Korea you'll notice that the map tiles are raster-based instead of vector-based like the rest of the map. At certain zoom levels, South Korea looks like it has no roads or cities, compared to the much more industrious North. It's kind of hilarious.

Korea is different. South Korea actually does require mapping servers to be ran on SK soil, but it does not put requirements on the data center owner or the workforce running the services.

I'm sorry if this comes off as nit-picky as it is not my intention, but comparing the mapping services requirements of China and SK are worlds apart. The intent of each policy is important to think about.

What is the intent of SK's policy?

Based on the article that is linked above, its origin seems to come from laws preventing map/navigational data being exported due to national security (South Korea is technically still at war with North Korea, as the Korean War only ended with an armistice/cease-fire). The article then states how the non-Korean perspective may view this as South Korea utilizing these laws to push a protectionist policy, helping South Korean tech companies to compete with big tech.

Does South Korea also use an obfuscated coordinate system?

I disagree. You may see "contested" borders, but not outright US policy. For example, the US recognizes the sovereignty of Kosovo, but Google Maps shows it as a dotted border. And Wikipedia accurately describes it as a disputed state.

Recognition of one side or another in a foreign dispute is a little different than having your own dispute or claim.

Guantanamo Bay (disputed between US/Cuba) used to be marked as US territory in Google Maps at least when viewed from the US, although interestingly, I'm looking at it now it doesn't say Cuba / United States along the border anymore.

I can't imagine the amount of crap they must go through on the backend to deal with these idiotic human politics. Humans suck.

You assume that maps are uniform throughout the U.S., or that the U.S. government mandates certain depictions. They're not, and the government does not, except for the maps it purchases for itself.

Whatever Google depicts is what Google chooses to depict; and what they pick, at least in the U.S., is a function of what they believe people expect to see or need to see. They depict Taiwan as a separate state despite the U.S. government not recognizing them as such because it's what people expect to see. It's trivial to find maps in the U.S. depicting any alternative you desire. Equivocating popularity with government-mandated depictions is not constructive.

There is no dispute about what country Guantanamo Bay is part of: both the US and Cuba agree it is part of Cuba.

The dispute is about whether the lease agreement which allowed the US to use that territory as a naval base is still in force. Early after the Cuban Revolution, one of the US's regular rent cheques was mistakenly cashed, and the US claims this is recognition on the part of Cuba that the lease remains valid.

> Recognition of one side or another in a foreign dispute is a little different than having your own dispute or claim.

I agree. A better list of places to look in the maps are the current disputed areas between USA and Canada https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_areas_disputed_by_Cana... In particular, what do you see in this map? https://www.google.com/maps/place/Machias+Seal+Island/@44.33...

In China, any mapping app is ran through the government owned mapping servers. Apple Maps, Google Maps, etc., are all using Chinese servers deployed and ran by external Chinese teams.


Funnily enough I just watched this video about how every map of China is deliberately wrong to be compliant with an idiotic law they have:


South Park's latest episode was about Chinese censorship in the West.

'South Park' Scrubbed From Chinese Internet After Critical Episode https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/south-park-banned-chi...

I should get back into that show. I don't recall why I stopped watching.

Years ago when working in Microsoft SharePoint, I noticed this method: SPUtility.HideTaiwan [1], which would hide the Taiwan calendar option in China, Hong Kong and Macao.

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

It's easy to forget the freedom I enjoy and expect in the United States. Again brings to light the question, how much do you actually own your device?

Since I assume there is no recourse for these users on a censorship level, is there such a thing as a class action lawsuit for removing a feature in Hong Kong?

Even if there was (I don't know, am not a HK lawyer), you would probably have a few problems if you complained about THAT exact feature being removed. Of course, this is just speculation on my part.


That last bit breaks the HN guidelines badly. Would you please re-read them and follow them?

Such cheap accusations of brigading get made all the time from both sides and have proven to be completely unreliable.


> Please don't post insinuations about astroturfing, shilling, brigading, foreign agents and the like. It degrades discussion and is usually mistaken. If you're worried about abuse, email us and we'll look at the data.

While accusations of brigading are common, I don't think the accusation is cheap in this case, you and I are both aware that the brigading happens on China related articles - we've spoke about it directly with each other via email. I would assume per the above you're looking at the data.

The last part is a bit of a deliberate trap - I've stated a fact, that the CCP agreed to provide HK with 'a high degree of autonomy'. If the anti-democracy suspects should downmod it, because it promotes allowing HK to do what the CCP agreed, they would be accusing their masters of lying. I quite deliberately did not make any allegation that the CCP would lie.

You're finessing this, but it's not a fine point. The guideline is clear. Please stop breaking it.

> you and I are both aware that the brigading happens on China related articles - we've spoke about it directly with each other via email

That's not accurate at all, and I have no idea what I said in email that would have made you think this. I've been looking at this data for years and have basically never seen anything remotely like what you're talking about. What you posted was a perfect example of the cheap accusations that the guidelines ask you to refrain from. You broke other guidelines there too, with going on about downvotes and flamey rhetoric ("Enjoy being disciplined by your masters"—please keep that kind of thing off HN).

If you want more explanation, I spent the whole day and half the night posting about this yesterday:






Previous comments on this at:



I didn't complain about downvotes but welcomed them (as a point about hypocrisy). You and I have personally discussed strange moderation around articles involving China, you can find them in your inbox. Nevertheless I'll refrain from discussing them here, not because I agree with you (I don't) but because you have power here and I don't like having these discussions.

People might be complaining about your use of unexpanded acronyms (CCP, PRC), or infusing a huge political stance onto a narrow legalistic question.

This is the freedom we give up when we choose proprietary systems. China has its problems with authoritarian government, which is enforced at the barrel of a gun. But we (the worldwide society) gave up our communications freedom to Apple and others willingly, for convenience.

>But we gave up our communications freedom

Nonsense. The existence of proprietary platforms in no way reduces the possibility of free and open platforms. Using iMessage or Facebook Messenger or any other closed communication platform is a choice you can opt out of right now.

Sometimes I wonder if this all-too-common "the open Internet is dead" defeatism isn't some kind of false flag to make people think the open Internet is actually dead so they don't try to leave their walled garden. That is absolutely not the case and people need to stop saying it.

Stop sucking up to dictatorships. If they don't want to do business with you because your map or flags or search engine shows something they don't like - leave. Don't censor your search engine or modify your maps to fit their worldview.

This is a simplistic view. When push comes to shove, companies don't behave with political principles. Apple is not going to throw away access to 1/6 of world's population over a political dispute. It's unrealistic to expect any company to, if they're sufficiently large. The only way to achieve political goals is to apply political pressure directly at the state level, or to work with domestic movements that seek to undermine the policies in question.

"What does it benefit to gain the whole world if you lose your soul?" - Jesus

Most famously quoted in the play "A Man for all Seasons"

"It profit a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... But for Wales?"

Thomas More is convicted and will be executed, on the false evidence of a man who he now sees is wearing a chain of office, he asks to see the chain (thereby establishing for the audience what the reward was for lying to secure More's conviction). The chain is for the Attorney General for Wales, prompting this line.

In reality Richard Rich was given a slightly different job with a longer title that doesn't afford such a fun line and of course we can't prove he got it for his deceits, though he does seem like he wasn't on the whole a truthful and upstanding person.


In that framework you are giving up something of infinite value for something of finite value, which is irrational.

I suspect the OP disagrees that souls have infinite value, because they do not exist.

The big point is to not give up something of greater value for lesser value. Human rights have greater value than increasing profit margins.

Google did.

Yea they want to head back (now that they realize nobody cared), but they pulled out of China entirely back in 2011 over censorship.

They were also hacked by the Chinese. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Aurora

That was the public reason but i’ve also heard they simply could’t compete and decided to use that excuse to save face.

by couldn't compete, i assume you mean, "didn't want to hand over all their IP to CCP, who would in turn give it to the native competitor", right?

No by couldn't compete, the OP probably means western tech companies do a remarkably poor job of understanding the Chinese market and frequently gets out innovated. When Google first entered the Chinese market, Google PinYin input lifted data from Sogou Pinyin because they couldn't get basic input prediction right. Baidu RankDex predates Google PageRank and was referenced by Larry Page when he submitted patent for PageRank. Before Youtube left China, they were the worlds top video streaming site, in China they didn't even break top 10. Same story for Twitter. Amazon today is unimpressive compared to major Chinese online retailers.

The truth is, these companies were never competitive in China because they never put in the work. Established western companies are not use to the level of competition in China. It's simplistic to say CCP is just arbitrarily picking domestic winners. Thousands of domestic companies (as in the case with ecommerce going toe-to-toe with Amazon) were busy out competing each other and western challengers. When it came to western social media bans post 2007, Chinese companies were hiring tens of thousands of content moderators with understanding of Chinese filtering rules for compliance. Western companies simply gave up and didn't learn how to scale content moderation until the last few years when social media had to deal with the same violent extremism that China did during the Tibetan and XinJiang riots that lead to FB/Twitter ban. As evidenced by current Youtube debacles, Google still can't / refuse to get human content control right. BTW both these companies can reenter anytime as long as they conform the same rules like Bing. Regardless, the government didn't have to tip the scale much to crown a domestic champion over western companies.

See AI Superpowers by Lee Fu Lee,previous head of Google.cn for an overview of Chinese competitive environments. There's lots of extremely technical fields where China is actively conducting industrial espionage and coercing tech transfers in (IC, airplane engines, military stuff). But cloning and improving software is not really one of them.

> When it came to western social media bans post 2007, Chinese companies were hiring tens of thousands of content moderators with understanding of Chinese filtering rules for compliance. Western companies simply gave up and didn't learn how to scale content moderation until the last few years when social media had to deal with the same violent extremism that China did during the Tibetan and XinJiang riots that lead to FB/Twitter ban.

I will gladly agree that Chinese companies have a competitive advantage over Western companies in terms of enforcing state-mandated censorship. I hope Western companies never get comfortable with that particular competency.

He seems so proud of it

Explaining is not endorsement.

> Western companies simply gave up and didn't learn how to scale content moderation until the last few years when social media had to deal with the same violent extremism that China did during the Tibetan and XinJiang riots that lead to FB/Twitter ban. As evidenced by current Youtube debacles, Google still can't / refuse to get human content control right.

First of all, I don't want them to do "human content control". That is stupid.

I will happily concede that China is better at nightmarish Orwellian censorship policies, congratulations, big accomplishment. I hope America never catches up.

How uncivilized must China be, if they need an army of censors to edit what everyone says? Americans have gotten along well without that. Based on how Chinese government treats its people, you must conclude that Chinese people are monsters that are constantly plotting violence. I choose to believe that the Chinese government is just too authoritarian and controlling.

Any American corporation that kowtows to the Chinese government's demands has nothing to be proud of.

It should be illegal for American companies to facilitate the evil that the PRC government commits. I don't want Google making money sending ethnic minorities to "re-education" camps.

The reality that is western social media has been increasingly censorial in the last couple years on a range of issues, particularly extremism, validating the Chinese approach which any reasonable evaluation would conclude has been prescient in retrospect. Arab Spring, Jasmine Revolution, Rohingya genocide, Hindu nationalist slayings, mass shootings, that is cost of exporting unfettered social media that I also enjoy. Contrary to your assessment of my sentiment, I am perfectly happy with unrestrained freespeech, 4/8chan etc at the cost of occasional mass casualty incidents that I think would be better addressed via responsible MSM conduct.

But the fact remains, the Chinese model promises political serenity (i.e. recent revelation of TikTok guidelines against divisive politics) which is valued in unstable countries without strong institutions, and those countries are by far the majority out the ~200 countries around the world. You many not like it, but calls for Social media accountability is obviously also happening all across western liberal democracies, including the US. People are screaming for more censorship. Techniques are converging and the only reason IMO the west can't match Chinese mechanical turk censoring is labour costs, but I surmise gig economy will eventually figure out a way to source the headcount.

This is a hard pill to swallow for western minds that hedges softpower on moral superiority. Many westerners refuse to accept that the CPC is modelling it's evil development method after what has been successful in the west, i.e. all the industrial espionage and protectionism, even the current Uyghur situation (which I do not endorse) is result of 2nd generation ethnic policy directly based off US melting pot concept and not far from indigenous residential school systems that emphasis integration. Previously it was based on autonomous soviet oblasts that tried to make distinct ethnic identities work - salad bowl - that has failed after riots and terrorism caused by unrestrained western social media (hence the bans). China will happily copy outdated, evil strategies employed by the west if it provides serenity, don't be surprised when the west copies fresh, evil Chinese innovations to address their social ills as well.

I am really only concerned about these issues as they affect my country, The United States.

Different nations have different ways of doing things. The policies that they have in China might indeed be the best thing for them. But the only time I care is when American corporations start trying to do that.

I can not disagree about the Uyghur question. The melting pot policy is stupid and must end anyway because it will fail, as we are seeing in Europe. Hopefully it will burn itself out before too much damage is done. I actually feel guilty that these stupid immigration/integration concepts have been exported to other countries.

Calls within the United States for censorship are just flimsy pretexts for consolidation of power, and actually I think are less sincere than Chinese efforts for harmony. Mass shootings and other evils would not be significantly hampered by censorship. People saying that the internet has caused the rise of extremist terrorism are absolutely wrong. Just the last few weeks they kept going on and on about chaos that would happen from the Joker movie. It is nonsense. It is very hard to connect things said on the Internet to any real world deaths here. But I can see how in less stable countries, rumors and misinformation could lead to real problems. Maybe in a place like Indonesia or The Philippines they should censor misinformation, when there is a very real chance of conflict breaking out.

Yes, I think different countries require different solutions during different stages of development and threat. US media environment and online culture does magnify and sensationalize statistically insignificant threats. I like to think we have a slightly healthier media environment in Canada, but people here seems irritatingly OK with censorship as well. Aat the end of the day, it's up to the west who values things like freedom of speech to produce a working alternative for the world to emulate. But given how things are going, I don't see anything forth coming. It's crazy how society is shaped by .01% of self-selected active online participants. I was hoping divisive culture war is just part of the growing pains of first wave of ubiquitous inter-connectivity, that people will get fatigued and adjust their behaviors eventually, a regression to mean of common decency. But it's been years and it looks like eternal September really is eternal.

Baidu would certainly like to think so, and has said as much on occasion, but do the facts really support the claim that Google left China primarily due to competition rather than ethical or security concerns?

Despite continuous friction with the Chinese government, Google's share of the search engine market in China had grown to over a third before it decided to pull out: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703465204575207...

Google hasn't pulled out of other markets where it faces strong local competitors, such as Yandex in Russia, and it remains popular in Chinese-speaking markets outside of mainland China such as Hong Kong and Taiwan. That the developers of the Google Pinyin input tool were found to have copied data (something other companies in and out of China have also been guilty of from time to time) is hardly evidence that Google in general was not competitive.

Ironically, the fact that under Pichai a return to China was seriously contemplated would suggest that financial reasons alone can't explain the original decision to leave.

Similarly, YouTube wasn't forced to pull out of other markets where it faced competition. Also, YouTube was frequently blocked by Chinese authorities even before Google decided to pull out: https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703465204575207...

Competition may explain in part why Google hadn't conquered the Chinese market before it left, but conflict with the Chinese government, in the form of official censorship as well as illicit hacking, would seem to be the main reason why Google pulled out of China but not elsewhere.

Unless of course learning to comply with such demands and intrusions is included under "understanding the Chinese market".

Too late to edit, but the correct URL for the second link is: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/mar/25/china-blocks-y...

I don't buy the story that Google left abruptly because they simply "couldn't compete". This is a huge and deep-pocketed corporation that out-rivals Microsoft in all aspects but yet, Bing could stick it out and Google couldn't?

That in itself is not a counter-claim to his arguments.

That being said, many companies fail to establish a foot-hold in certain international markets, including Yelp, Uber (which ceded southeast Asia to Grab, and China to Didi). Even Amazon does poorly internationally, and that's headed by the richest man on earth (which by your logic implies that it's impossible for Amazon not be able to dominate)[1].

[1] https://www.statista.com/statistics/955796/global-amazon-e-c...

this looks like a good read, thanks for the rec

In my opinion, this is a political issue. It should be handled on a political level similar to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that sets minimum standards for how corporations are allowed to act in foreign countries.

For-profit corporations are systemically unfit to solve this problem on their own. We should stop wishing for them to be something they cannot consistently be.

I absolutely agree, Apple needs to take a stand and end its relationship with China immediately. We need to organize boycotts until they do this.

But that would require companies to prioritise something other than profit and the incentive structure to do that simply doesn’t exist. It’s sad.

>Stop sucking up to dictatorships.

I bet people have already begun weaning themselves off Apple products!

Just kidding. Most people expect others to do something, but take no direct action themselves. Pity.

Hey I whined on a forum I think that's enough political action for one day? I have mobile games to catch up with on my iPhone now.

I feel the need to inject some perspective here.

Every country imposes requirements on manufacturers of devices or service providers that some person(s) might object to.

If you choose to do business in that country, you play ball, or you leave. How you pick which ones that are tolerable enough to live with is the question -- and don't imagine that it's moral principles that define it. It's how much a company wants to stomach the loss of that business.

Saudi Arabia (and many others) prevent the installation of Whats App, etc. on phones activated there.

Israel (and the US by the way) censor imagery of certain places on the maps shown in those countries.

Japan for chrissake even forces devices to emit a camera shutter sound when a picture is taken.

And you're singling out China for censoring the Taiwan flag emoji?

How about those other cases? Where does it start / end? Are you saying engineers should quit over every one of these infringements?

This is more blatantly political.

Do you have anything more I can read about the Isrealy/USA map censorship?

Adobe just cut off the entire country of Venezuela from the software it paid for, over a political row between the US and Venezuela.

This is in hong kong though not in the mainland

> Saudi Arabia (and many others) prevent the installation of Whats App, etc. on phones activated there.


>Japan for chrissake even forces devices to emit a camera shutter sound when a picture is taken.

This is actually pretty cool, I'm always paranoid that I'll end up on someone else's photo without knowing.

This is why I laugh when Apple tried to paint themselves as champions of anything more than their share price

They are, loosely, the champions of their customers at least, unlike most of the tech world. They have to do a good enough job to get you to spend $1k on the next year's device. Google just has to not-suck enough that you won't stop using it for free.

But yes, any true moral posturing they make is baloney.

The mobile phones are not free. Don't belittle people who pay good amount of money to purchase them. Even though some can purchase iPhone.

I'm not belittling, I'm just laying out the economic forces. Google doesn't have to give a care when it comes to services, at least, because its customers are the ones buying ads, not the ones using the products.

You are still belittling. Customers buy mobile not ads. Just ask any android users. It's like you are saying iPhone users are buying status symbols not mobiles.

"Think different. Just not too different."

The degree that China goes to censor things reminds me of kindergarten. Pull the shades down, and kids won't want to go outside? Is it simply a reminder to their people of who's in charge, at this level of pettiness?

China is showing the ability to control one of the world's largest, and most advanced companies. It isn't petty–it is scary. The U.S. and others have sold their soul to the devil for $299 flat screen tvs.

> The U.S. and others have sold their soul to the devil for $299 flat screen tvs.

This seems to suggest the populace is at fault, wanting and buying cheap gadgets no matter what the consequences are?

In truth, I think most people are simply unaware of the many problems caused both by consumerism, and the moral spinelessness of pretty much all large corporations and how that is brought about by market forces. Even in politics I'd say that there is, besides some malfeasance, also limited understanding of complicated issues. (Remember the congressman asking Zuckerberg how Facebook made any money?)

> This seems to suggest the populace is at fault, wanting and buying cheap gadgets no matter what the consequences are?

I'm sorry it came off that way, as I do not blame people for the propaganda of their government (U.S. or China).

I do absolutely believe that we shouldn't be able to off-shore environmental/worker's rights policies. If you want to sell something in California, it should be made with the same environmental standards that making it in California would require.

Environmental and human rights standards.

I'd push the blame a little further on. Many, many people are just struggling to get by, and they pay as little as they possible can for their luxury goods.

If they weren't struggling to get by on the wages they make, they could afford to be a little more picky about what they buy and how it's created.

The present piece of news goes against that argument though, as Apple devices are simultaneously the more expensive and less ethical option. These aspects don't seem correlated.

>less ethical option

Are you getting that because of this flag issue or is there more behind that? I would argue that Apple is, by far, the more ethical option.

Was speaking about this issue specifically, but I'd be interested in hearing your arguments for the opposite side.

From Apple's historically more oppressive stance against freedom of expression in their own wallet garden, and the recent actions against the HK protest movement ("legitimate" app ban, the present article), my opinion is that Apple is a less ethical choice than Android which is more permissive and respectful of user freedom.

>From Apple's historically more oppressive stance against freedom of expression in their own wallet garden, and the recent actions against the HK protest movement

I would love to see how you justify Apple's actions as "historically oppressive" when it comes to App Store rejections. Even the case that you specify in Hong Kong wasn't Apple's actions "against the HK protest movement". The App was rejected initially because it was thought to violate specific terms and it was appealed and approved within days. To try and frame that as Apple being morally or ethically deficient is really, really disingenuous.

The opposite side is that Apple is the only company that's not actively selling user data and/or using it against users. Android may be more permissive from a general standpoint but even that comes at the huge, huge cost of a lack of privacy and a completely lack of concern for personal freedom. Even from a security standpoint, I would argue that Google is less ethical simply because they don't act on nefarious actors that they know about. Being permissive isn't the same thing as being ethical.

Good point. This is compounded by the fact that people under pressure are understandably less interested in moral issues and have less time to inform themselves.

On the other hand, it would be easier for at least some of these people to get by if having a large TV or this year's smartphone wasn't part of "getting by".

Most people think if the government allows this then it is okay.

People are buying based on price, quality and for some products image.

The products purchased based on image can be shamed away. The other two cannot. No matter what some will buy the best quality and some the cheapest. Government can't help with the first but can control the second.

> I think most people are simply unaware of the many problems caused both by consumerism, and the moral spinelessness of pretty much all large corporations and how that is brought about by market forces.

I believe this is one of the fundamental flaws and challenges of capitalism. Corporations are great usability wise because serve as an abstraction for accessing a product. You put some money in and you get a widget out, without having to worry or know about where that widget came from.

But the consequence of that is that you are insulated from all of the negative externalities involved in creating that widget. You just wanted some cheap eggs, and you didn't realize you were inadvertently causing chickens to be raised in inhumane factory settings. You wanted a bottle of water and you didn't realize it was being pumped out of a national park.

It's like using some really nice, convenient API and only discovering later that every time you called getFoo(), the backend went out and killed a kitten.

> This seems to suggest the populace is at fault, wanting and buying cheap gadgets no matter what the consequences are?

I didn't read GP's "others" as "populace". One reading would have the U.S. and other [governments] have given in to excessive demands of China.

Now the "devil" in the question doesn't necessarily have to be China. It could be Global Finance -- an abstraction which believe it or not is reasonably reducible to actual people and families, the fabled "1%" [sic].

> The U.S. and others have sold their soul to the devil for $299 flat screen tvs.

I believe it's more appropriate to say that they sold their souls at 230 dollars per share.

> they sold their souls at 230 dollars per share

I realize you are referencing something specific, but I wanted to make sure I got it correctly. Current TSLA share price?

Currently, most of China's power comes from its economy. There is barely any military presence outside of the mainland, and only a few years ago they opened their first outpost. So it's not surprising that Apple is conforming to their requests. And they are not the only ones. A while back, German carmaker Daimler made an instagram post with a Dalai Lama quote [1]. They ended up apologizing for "hurting the feelings of the chinese people".

China is extremely attractive to businesses because of its gigantic market. There are tons of cars to be sold in a country with over one billion people. Tons of phones. There are tons of chinese hotel guests, chinese search requests, etc.

[1]: https://media-cdn.sueddeutsche.de/image/sz.1.3856412

Isn't that what the newest South Park was about? [0] US companies bending to the political will of China because money.

I remember a NPR broadcast a few years ago (when the female ghost busters movie came out) about how movies have become less progressive because they are targeted at world audiences. I think a lot of Westerners feel weird about this, but I think getting involved in the politics is even a step further (especially when we're seeing an human rights violations).

[0] https://southpark.cc.com/full-episodes/s23e02-band-in-china

Came to say the same... it's pretty funny how often South Park is on point with the criticism. Love the show more the past couple years than when it first came out.

China has military control over the south China sea and a lot of the oil imports to SEA countries. Assuming the US pulls out, Japan, south Korea, Australia will all face strategic challenge from China over the next few decades.

The US refuses to see China as a strategic threat, and only as a economic challenge. Australia is looking into getting 16-32 submarines ordered right now, to cover for future defense outcomes. Aus and the SEA middle powers are having talks about obtaining nukes simply to prevent them being used against the countries.

China is projected to grow to be double the size of the US's econony. China is willing to spend those benefits in the south China sea and on BRI. Make no mistake about the military of China. It is a concern. This is as big as power politics get.

>>>The US refuses to see China as a strategic threat

Huh? The new Commandant of the Marine Corps has flat-out said it.[1] And he's not the first in the Pentagon to take China seriously.[2] And from [3]:

"Emblematic of this mistake was the roll-out of the Air-Sea Battle doctrine. First outlined in a then-classified memo in 2009, ASB became official doctrine in 2010. From the beginning, it was an effort to develop an operational doctrine for a possible military confrontation with China and then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates openly discussed the need to counter China’s growing military capabilities. The signal received in Beijing was the U.S. had hostile intentions toward China and was trying to contain it militarily. The result was that the entire pivot was seen by Beijing as part of a broader effort to encircle China."




That's why I said currently. I completely agree with you that the chinese military will increase in power and relevance.

China also sometimes tries to hold businesses hostage that try to leave.


As if the US hadn't sold their soul already? :/ I'm not trying to downplay the horrors of China, but let's not act like the US had clean hands before importing bulk electronics.

I'm not sure the average American benefited as directly to the atrocites of the past. The U.S. simply cannot change course without a serious alteration of the the ethos of the country.

"I'm not sure the average American benefited as directly to the atrocites of the past. "

We live on a continent taken from a people by violence, betrayal, and disease -- some of it intentionally spread through government policies. Sorry, the average American are direct beneficiaries of the atrocities of the past. Some of us don't know or chose to ignore it.

Update: I didn't say this to justify terrible things people are doing. We can't play this game of "only the most moral of us can criticize". Something is immoral in and of itself, it doesn't matter who calls it out.

> Sorry, the average American are direct beneficiaries of the atrocities of the past

This is true for most humans alive in nearly all nation-states today. At some point in the linear chain of humanity that allows my existence today, atrocities were committed. Whether an ancient ancestor strangling a potential threat with their bare hands, or the nation-state I was born in acquiring land through militaristic expansion.

Of course but I think the point is that we can stop supporting the continued benefit of these. Money talks and both people and corporations can talk the talk by not supporting these countries and not caving to them.

I do not support the atrocities that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committing against the people of Yemen (civilian death toll closing in on 100,000 [0]) with American purchased F-35 jets manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

How can I, as a person, talk with my money to prevent this? How can Lockheed Martin, a corporation whose fiduciary obligation is to generate profit for its shareholders, prevent this? How can the US government, who benefits greatly from a prosperous diplomatic relationship with the Monarch, prevent this?

> not caving to them

Fundamentally what I am saying is these institutions are not "caving in" - they are doing what they are doing because, from an emotionless game-theoretical perspective, it is beneficial to the success and longevity of the institution.

Apple benefits from an increasingly strong business relationship (the new diplomacy of the multinational) with mainland China - not just for their supply chain, but also for their marketshare.

These benefits have cost. For US-KSA the cost is tens of thousands of Yemeni civilian lives; for Apple the cost is decreased mindshare of the sovereign nationstate of Taiwan.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/jun/20/h...

> How can I, as a person, talk with my money to prevent this?

With your personal money? You can't. Can you convince extremely wealthy people to spend their money in a way that will ultimately lose them money? Possible, but still losing odds.

See Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins for an example of what this fight looks like. (he was one of the guys who paved way for the original deals between the US and Saudi Arabia that you mention)

Thanks for that book recommendation - really appreciate it. I have been looking for a solid critical reference regarding the World Bank (and IMF, for that matter) for some time now. There were some allusions in Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine that set me down this rabbit hole.

> See Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

Or, for a far less conspiratorial take on the same phenomenon, read "Globalization and its Discontents" by Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz.

In it you'll learn how institutions like the IMF treated open markets and no currency flow restrictions as a religion regardless of whether they made sense for the stage of development of the countries on which they imposed those as terms of their loans.

That's a huge straw man and not at all what I was referring to.

Stop buying goods that support these policies. Stop supporting politicians that support these policies. Stop patronizing companies that lobby for these things. Use apps like "Goods Unite Us" to find out where your money is going.

The only way to do anything as an individual is to vote with your wallet, your feet, and your actual vote. When that cumulative change affects the bottom line of these companies, they'll have no choice but to change.

> I'm not sure the average American benefited as directly to the atrocites of the past.

This is a joke right?

Oh we definitely have, everyone benefitted massively from the "manifest destiny" attitude behind the many atrocities committed against the native Americans.

It's also not our fault, infar as we didn't literally pull any triggers. We're probably still complicit to some degree, however, by our general lack of support for reparation actions.

We all pay taxes that buy triggers and pay to have them pulled. You can argue this is compelled, but I personally have more respect for those who refuse to pay taxes and face the wrath of the US government than I have for my own cowardly position of paying taxes and continuing to complain about the horrors committed using that money.

The Good Place actually deals with this, "you can't be good and participate in society anymore because of globalization" idea pretty well IMO.

If no one paid taxes, then the governments capacity to do bad things would certainly go down. However, then there also probably would be no government and everyone would be worse off.

I'm sure lots of tax money is wasted, or used for bad things, but also a lot of good as well. Roads, police (that keep the peace), firefighters, education, foreign aid, etc.

Given all those other countries we've been bombing based on false pretenses I'd say a lack of US government funding would be a net positive. I'll take lawless anarchy over a relatively well organized state that bombs children to secure foreign oil production facilities and prop up the petro-dollar.

Children dying is always a tragedy, or any civilians really.

Here's a question for you: If the US were to collapse into anarchy, and there was suddenly a void in the world where the US military used to exist, do you think would there be more or fewer civilian/child deaths (in total, from other forces) and why?

I betting more short term but fewer long term. The immediate bloodbaths would be in America's client states that Russia and China move in on, but some of those would probably manage independence. Long term, one less bully dropping bombs on children should result in fewer deaths. The power vacuum is real, but I don't think it be entirely filled with other international bullies. A collapse of the military would probably result in some pretty dope weapon systems switching hands, as it did during the collapse of the Soviet Union. This would cause bloodshed, sure, but it also means some of those prior client states might have a better shot at independence than one might first imagine. I'll also point out that those power vacuum dynamics exhibit themselves at multiple levels of supervenience, and the US is often responsible for their disruption on smaller scales.

> I'll take lawless anarchy over a relatively well organized state that bombs children to secure foreign oil production facilities and prop up the petro-dollar.

Those are hardly the only two options.

There are parts of US history where terrible things happened. It's important to acknowledge that, and be compassionate towards those it has affected.

However, now that the US exists, it does a lot of good for many, many people. As a first generation immigrant, I'm glad that I was able to come here, as I think conditions are much better than my country of origin.

That being said, am I complicit in everything bad that has happened here simply because I'm living here now? What amount of reparations are appropriate for me to give, considering neither I nor my ancestors likely had any involvement with any of those things.

Can any amount of money even make up for what happened?

Yeah I totally agree, it's impossible to accurately split out all of the consequences of merely existing in a society, especially a global one like ours. Ooh, I walked on a street paid for by federal funding, am I now guilty of supporting the Bay of Pigs?

It's insane. The Native American example was just the first one that came to my mind that demonstrates that the "average" American of today does indeed benefit from atrocities committed hundreds of years ago.

Though I don't think it's a boolean, "Well you did it, you made up for the damage your ancestors caused" situation, but more of a, "Well now we are better equipped than we were before to handle the fallout of the damage your ancestors caused". And it's not just money (though money does fund everything), there's a lot more that the US government could be doing for the Native American people. Am I a bad person for not doing more? No. Could I probably do a bit more to help? Yeah.

> Can any amount of money even make up for what happened?

maybe not, but that is hardly a reason to do nothing instead

I wasn't trying to say do nothing, but that just giving a bunch of money just seems somewhat patronizing and wouldn't really make that big of a difference.

Money is a catch all term for investment in human capital. Paying for better schools, post-secondary training/education, healthcare for those who continue to struggle under the yoke of history would be a good place to start. And really, we ought to do that for everyone.

The average American benefited a great deal from violence toward South America in exactly the same way.

For the partisans: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_republic (ever noticed that bananas are the cheapest fruit?)

The atrocities of the US are not strictly in the past, though our biggest and boldest known atrocities are. That being said I would say that we have benefitted from the atrocities of the past; the land I live on was once populated by people that my government participated in the genocide of. More importantly, I said nothing about people. Does the average Chinese citizen benefit directly from the atrocities of the Chinese government? Is the answer to that question even relevant to whether your prior condemnation of China was fair? Why shift to examining citizens in the case of the US but not in the case of China?

Always this same comment when anyone points the finger at China.

The comment is just pointing out to the OP that any moral bankruptcy of the US can most certainly not be blamed on China.

The comment I was replying to implicitly suggested the US had a "soul" prior to engaging in business with China, I wasn't the one who brought up the US. If I had brought up the US out of the blue I'd agree that it was an irrelevant whataboutism, but in this context I feel it was entirely appropriate and on topic.

Multinational companies conforming to local laws and customs isn't scary, it's status quo. (Most) Companies sell products and services not ideology. Sometimes prexisting ideology comes preloaded in because regionalization and cultural competence cost extra. Mostly that's an economic bug that people have conflated as a soft power feature because non-western markets were too small to advocate for themselves.

It's completely reasonable for larger countries with different values to expect customization that comport to local markets. At the end of the day China isn't forcing Apple or any other companies to make changes in global markets.

> Multinational companies conforming to local laws and customs isn't scary, it's status quo.

You are missing my point. The fact that it is status quo is the scary part.

I do not accept that companies should be let off the hook for empowering and enriching oppressive reigns because of "local laws and customs". I do accept that companies should be let off the hook for destroying environments and ecosystems because of local laws and customs.

What should a country have to do for a person / corporation(group of people) to stop supporting it? I don't expect everyone to have the same answer, or even that my answer is better than another, but if you are in a privileged life-situation you should think of your personal line and decide if it has been crossed.

Your beef seems to be companies being incentivized to maximize shareholder profit at all cost. Your solution seems to be to legislate morality and corporate conduct, which is exactly what every country including China is doing out of their respective self-interest. Unless you mean to only enforce western liberal values in which case it's an argument for subsuming companies to one nation's foreign policy goals (in Apple's case, US) - a complaint frequently levied at China. The current solution is to let the consumers decide which seems to be the least bad of all options.

Trying to tie trade to morality is exactly why Chinese influence is increasing - they are ideologically agnostic when it comes to trade relationships. That's just the new competitive environment we're in. The alternative is withdrawal and decoupling at the cost of hundreds of billions in trade and feel good points for some people at best and a long-term national security concern by pushing Chinese tech independence and future competitiveness at worst. Current administration already wasted that card IMO.

I think your real question is what does the west have to do to contain Chinese ascent which many people think runs counter to Western interests. The answer is I don't know. Though I don't think bilateral trade belligerency helps or individual action in the west. Developing countries are looking to the China model because it looks like it works - conflating the good and the bad with necessary and sufficient. I think western influence would go a long way if they managed to solve the myriad of problems at home and offer and offer an appealing alternative. Other countries aren't stupid, they're look at what works / is working. Too many things in the west is broken right now.

It's also neither local laws or customs to hide the Taiwanese flag as OP claims.

Wut. China compelling foreign companies to remove references of Taiwan in China is established policy? Even mainland Chinese companies HK/Taiwan offices occasionally get in trouble for missteps.

I would think it also has non-trivial psychological effects on the Chinese public in terms of feelings of national pride, optimism for the future, and allegiance to their communist government. From where I sit, China is executing largely flawlessly, for the maximization of their outcome that is, not the entire world's. But it's the West who made this possible, so I don't place much blame on China.

Pretty sure the escalating violence in Hong Kong would be a sign that things aren't going flawlessly.

Flawless execution does not necessarily mean everything goes perfect. Expecting everyone to go down without a fight (or even realizing they're in one in the first place) like the West seems like fairly wishful thinking.

I reckon Hong Kong is a speed bump. China could likely roll tanks in and slaughter thousands and the West would do little more than hold some important looking meetings and press conferences with Very Serious looks on their faces, before issuing some "demands" on China's behavior, that would be promptly forgotten. Western culture has become weak, we are ruled by false ideology, propaganda, and the almighty dollar. If you ask me, we deserve whatever it is we get.

Pushing back on China trade is the one and probably only thing I agree with Trump on, and I've wondered if getting rid of Clinton and the TPP wasn't actually worth tolerating Trump being an ass for four years.

All I know is that I'm glad the TPP is dead and I'll be happy if nobody with the last names Clinton or Bush ever sits in the White House again.

I say this as someone who leans more toward the 'woke' side of the present culture wars.

The TPP was designed to contain China. China wasn't a part of it.

If that's true then I'm wrong, but I'll need a reference on that.

My understanding has been that the TPP was about opening China to further outsourcing of white collar work by regularizing IP law on paper (which the Chinese would just ignore of course). This would have allowed more paralegal, contract writing, engineering, and even things like radiology (X-ray and scan interpretation) to be outsourced, further gutting the US middle class and transferring more expertise to China. In other words it would have started the outsourcing of non-physical forms of service work and more lower-level intellectual labor. What would even be left of the US middle class after that?

China wasn't a signatory.

You're right that it was corporate captured but the original goal was geopolitical.

Edit, cite: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-Pacific_Partnership

I think it is petty.

At the same time it's a good gauge for them to figure out what else they can do.

Start with "hey man don't show that one pic" and the company figures "it's one pic, whatever we're not really compromising our values".

A few more steps and then it seems less dramatic when it comes to "give us that information on that one user"... and so on.

Personally I would expect an external social credit score coming soon too. It doesn't have to be all encompassing like the social credit score, but good luck getting a job with a company who wants to work with China if you're on the list...

>A few more steps and then it seems less dramatic when it comes to "give us that information on that one user"... and so on.

That has already happened. Only instead of handing over data on specific users upon request, Apple has simply handed over all iCloud data of all its (mainland) Chinese users to a government owned company:


Pretty scary thought, but progress being what it is, I don't see anything blocking it. I'm sure they already decline to do business with anyone that is vocally critical of China, or for example, highly complementary of the Dali Lama.

Happened just yesterday after GM of the Houston Rockets spoke out *for the HK protests: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/07/business/houston-rockets-nba-...

EDIT: s/against/for/


Well if the NSA gets access why not opening up to other governments?

This is a fallacy, stop with this kind of logic. At whatever point where the requests become unreasonable is the point at which to raise issue, not because of some arbitrary "precedent setting" bullshit.

The frog, in reality, just jumps out of the pot when the water gets too hot.

If most people operated rationally, it would be correct to disregard slippery slope arguments as fallacies when analyzing the spread of ideas in society. However, most people do not operate rationally most of the time -- they use rough heuristics and perceived social signaling of others to arrive at (usually irrational) conclusions about most issues.

Empirically, slippery slopes have always been an extremely common way change is driven in mass social thinking. This has been formalized as the "Overton window": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overton_window

I understand what you're trying to say, but it's not true or real in the sense that the counter-argument is entirely effective. Specifically, "When that thing you're worried about actually comes up, then we'll decide what to do."

Saying, "We're still three steps from my issue but this thing that, in and of itself I have no problem with, can't happen because it might lead to the thing I have a problem with." is not a valid argument.

To try and bring it back into focus, it's a real problem that this "one pic" isn't being shown. It's not a slippery slope conversation, because we're already at the thing I/we have a problem with. No need to argue the "this paves the way for worse things" because this is the worse thing! We're here!

I think the fact that they have so much power that they can micromanage incredibly petty things is indicative that CCP has way too much power.

I think most people on Hacker-News would know that Taiwan exists, even though a flag is missing on their phone. I think for the general population in the US or Europe that's not so clear.

If one would never hear about Taiwan, would we really "know" it exists?

> If one would never hear about Taiwan, would we really "know" it exists?

It's a sort of reverse branding exercise. If you can reduce exposure as much as possible there's not going to be a lot of sentiment for supporting the cause. What would be of Palestine today without the exposure that has been directed at it.

It's not like Israel is - not talking about the truth of that claim here - denying the very existence of their neighbouring states. On the contrary, palestine and part of the palestine people are branded as great evil. Being branded as _anything_ is being "known". Famously or infamously.

> I think most people on Hacker-News would know that Taiwan exists

I frequently come across, in America, people who are genuinely surprised that Taiwan is a sovereign state.

Are you sure they don't just disagree with your use of the word sovereign? I find it a strange way to describe the ROC and Taiwan.

Without a clear territory under exclusive control, recognition from other governments, or independence from the mainland, what's so sovereign about it?

> Are you sure they don't just disagree with your use of the word sovereign?

Yes, when people debate Taiwan’s sovereignty (for, independent foreign relations and a military, against, limited recognition) they understand the local context. That there is legitimate dispute with respect to its status is news to a surprising number of Americans.

>Without a clear territory under exclusive control

But isn’t there? Taiwan has borders and a military.

> Is it simply a reminder to their people of who's in charge, at this level of pettiness?

Most countries have petty border disputes.

A famous country occupies territory in Cuba where it built a military prison. Cuba claims that the military presence is occupation of territory it rightfully owns. The famous country refuses to leave; it claims it only leases it based on a hundred-year-old document, and sends $4k checks yearly. Cuba denies, and refuses to cash the checks.

China decided to take control of Hong Kong based on a hundred year old document.

A document signed with Taiwan instead of POC I would add.

Control was taken from China in the first place.

Which china? If the world was truly fair and honored the original signatories, it'd have gone back to the ROC and not the PRC. But it didn't because of might is right.

I saw you made a comment earlier that both countries say "China" on their passports missing the point of this whole conflict.

I think you should spend at least an hour reading about the history of this conflict (not through China's censored Internet).

This is so much more egregious than what China is doing within its own borders.

Famous country also blacklisted Cuba from trade and uses the prison for illegal detentions. Talk about bullying.

That's hardly an accurate telling.

Cuba started a war for independence. The US sunk their own ship, the USS Maine to get an excuse to go to war (according to the Northwoods document declassified in 1998). This kicks off the Spanish-American war where Teddy Roosevelt rises to prominence (the perhaps biggest point of note was the butchering of whole villages, mass rapes, and what were essentially concentration camps in the Philippines).

After liberating Cuba, the US government drafted the Platt Amendment as conditions for giving up the Cuban territory they had won from Spain. There were 7 conditions and one of those was the establishment of Guantanamo Bay. Fidel Castro and his chief gestapo butcher Che Guevara overthrow the previous government and then proceed to break most of the other conditions (though it could be argued that the US should have exercised article 3 and prevented the coup).

Cuba later argues that the Vienna convention on treaties overrules the previous agreement, but the Vienna convention is explicitly non-retroactive (and more to the point, agreements due to a war are by their very nature coercive). It could be argued that the US created an excuse for war isn't very savory and most Americans of the time would have opposed involvement if an honest case had been made (I agree with this). If they had not, it's most likely that Cuba would have remained a Spanish colony and that point is immaterial.

International law doesn't leave room for "pettiness" in this case. If the US were trying to pretend the Cuban government didn't exist and was trying to force non-US entities to comply with that non-reality, that go far beyond petty.




Personally, I wouldn't use the word petty because I think it suggests that the motivation is basically about childish insecurity and that there isn't a deliberate rationale behind it.

Instead, I think China does this sort of thing to control discourse and/or to send constant reminders that certain lines should not be crossed or there will be consequences.

Both are bad things, but they are different types of bad thing.

Censorship has a natural way of forever expanding and broadening in scope.

Often because it’s the only power some groups can exert on others (in this case China's gov to western companies) so they push it as far as they can into the realm of ridiculousness. Plus people get job promotions or feel-good emotions about "doing something".

Eventually you run out of legitimate things to ban so you expand the scope. Then you can start banning people who complain about bannings, which naturally generating groups with victim complexes warranting more bannings, etc.

This is not unique to China.

The United States doesn't officially recognize Taiwan as a country. Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations. Apple's revenue in Taiwan is peanuts compared to that of mainland China. The list goes on.

The US has also never recognized Taiwan as being part of the PRC. I'm not even sure why you're bringing this up in relation to the parent's comment.

We might not officially recognize them as a country, but we do have a law called the "Taiwan Relations Act".


> The United States doesn't officially recognize Taiwan as a country.

That means little. The US has de-facto diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and has made official commitments to its defense against threats (which realistically could only ever come from the PRC), such as selling it arms. The weirdness and official ambiguity here are driven by the PRC's sensitivities, and do not represent any real commitment to the PRC's position.


The US used to recognise the government as the government of the whole of China and the communists as insurgents, with Taiwan holding the Chinese seat in the UN.

Obviously, at some point realpolitik caught up and they reversed their stance, though they continue to help Taiwan because... more realpolitik.

Trump enraged China when he tweeted that he talked to "the President of Taiwan" though, so clearly most people in the US think of Taiwan as being separate from China

This level of pettiness is very much the international norm for territorial and sovereignty disputes.

The only newsworthy thing is that China's a big enough market that it can compel vendors to comply.

They do it because it works. Combine censorship with a populace that is largely taught not to exercise critical thinking and you get China. Many of my Chinese colleagues who did not know about Nazi concentration camps, let alone the concentration camps that are currently running in their own country today.

Mmm, yeah, lack of critical thinking combined with a nationalist, "we're number one" media environment.

We would never be like that.. I mean, we're better than them. We're number one.

Petty would be China requesting Apple to hide the Japanese or American flag.

Taiwan is the result of a civil war. No one says Americans are petty when they try to remove Confederate flags or when Germany bans the Nazi flag.

The ROC is the successor state to the Qing Dynasty. It acquired Taiwan when the Japanese surrendered it at the end of WW2.

The PRC is the result of the civil war. The ROC never stopped existing nor did it start to exist as the result of the civil war.

Imagine that the war of 1812 had resulted a complete British/Canadian conquest of the US, which lasted for the most of the 19th century. Then imagine that Florida had successfully seceded from the US after WWII and joined the Soviet Union, along with all of Canada. Then finally imagine that the Soviet Union won the Cold War and has been the sole world superpower for the last thirty years.

How would we feel, in that world, if the US government wanted to censor people mentioning Florida? Of course there would be complicated questions about whether that censorship was ethical or helpful, and about the government's real motivations for proposing it. But I think it would be clear to everyone involved that "kindergarten levels of pettiness" wasn't the right starting point for understanding those motivations.

This is an incredibly tortured alternate history metaphor.

A much simpler real world analogy would be the DPRK forcing censorship of the South Korean flag, or the ROK doing the same to North Korea. Or something involving Israel and Iran. Or India and Pakistan.

I don't think censoring facts is ever anything but black and white. The fact that Taiwan exists, Hong Kong exists, Falun Gong, Tibet...

These are all real things. There shouldn't ever be a reason to hide the fact that they exist no matter if todays reality wasn't todays reality.

I mean, yes, I'm an American and it's no surprise to anyone that I think censoring speech is deeply problematic. (I think telling people how much money they're allowed to spend on political ads is also problematic, though most Americans seems to be cool with that restriction. It's really hard to draw black and white lines when you get into the details.)

But when I see other people (in China, in Europe, really in most places that aren't the US) supporting tighter speech restrictions than we do, I understand that that's for some reason other than them being assholes, or childish, or hypersensitive, or whatever. I probably wouldn't like their reasons if I fully understood them, but I also accept that being an American means I don't fully understand them.

[As a side note not directed at you but at some others in this thread, it sounds like trying to draw this distinction gets me labeled as some kind of communist shill. What the fuck ever.]

Facts are rarely black and white. Look at USA reporting about Venezuela or Cuba. It's factual, yet it also implicitly takes sides.

Which facts? How are they presented?

You are confusing perspective with facts. A cup is filled with water, you can say its half empty or half full. The cup has water is a fact. Whether its half empty or half full is perspective. But at the end of the day, there is still water in the cup.

I'm relating perspective to facts.

Palestine has a UN seat, Taiwan doesn't. Taiwan has control of their territory, Palestine doesn't.

Which one is more 'a country'?

Tell your bosses at the Ministry of Culture that trying to use Britain and the United States as analogies to the situation with Taiwan is going to backfire on you. At this point, Taiwan is fully-independent with its own national identity, and so saying they need to reunify with China is as ridiculous as asking Americans to "reunify" with the UK. It's not gonna happen, at least not voluntarily.

Exactly. China’s reaction is far from petty.

They had a civil war and the other side fled to Taiwan. This is a major issue for China.

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