Apple’s Kowtowing To Chinese Communists Is Starting To Backfire

Few American CEOs have kowtowed to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as much as Apple’s Tim Cook. But Cook’s bet on China, often at considerable reputational risk for him and his company, got a harsh reality check after Beijing recently banned state employees from using foreign-branded smartphones, including the iPhone. 

For years, the CCP welcomed Apple because the company brought badly needed technical know-how, investment, and hundreds of thousands of jobs to China. The party rolled out the red carpet for Cook. He was often received by the CCP’s top leadership and frequently spoke at Chinese government-sponsored conferences, where he lavishly sang Beijing’s praises.

Clearly, Cook has tried to be on the CCP’s good side due to China’s critical role in Apple’s bottom line. According to Reuters, China accounts for nearly 20 percent of Apple’s annual revenue, or about $80 billion. China is also Apple’s most critical manufacturer hub; almost 50 percent of Apple suppliers are based in the country as of 2019.

In the U.S., Cook has promoted Apple as a responsible corporate citizen and unequivocal defender of democracy and social justice. In 2016, Apple fought a legal battle to deny the FBI’s request to help the agency break into the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook (he and his wife murdered 14 people in December 2015). Cook reportedly called the government’s request a threat to customers’ privacy and security, and “the software equivalent of cancer.” He even threatened to resign if Apple didn’t fight the FBI’s request.

grayscale photo of Apple by Bangyu Wang is licensed under Unsplash
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