There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Apple understands the value of the Chinese market for its business, and that it will work to protect its status there – despite the extremely unfavorable geopolitical moment.
Unlike most, if not all other US Big Tech, who predominantly offer services that run against China’s online censorship rules, Apple is (still) a hardware company that can do business freely in that massive market.
In addition, that hardware is also by and large manufactured in China.
Earlier in the month, Apple first banned a map app used by anti-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong, to then reverse the decision when faced with an outcry in the US. But Apple then again banned HKMap, after warnings came from China that allowing the app in the App Store might have its unpleasant consequences for the company.
So, in a bid to keep the Apple ship steady in some very stormy waters, CEO Tim Cook traveled to Beijing to meet with China’s regulators. Reuters is quoting the website of China’s State Administration for Market Regulation that said in a brief press release Cook’s meeting with the agency’s chief Xiao Yaqing concerned topics such as “Apple expanding investment in China, consumer rights protection, and fulfilling corporate social responsibility.”
There’s talk that the “corporate social responsibility” being referred to as the HKMap controversy. Apple is yet to, if at all, issue its own statement about the meeting in Beijing, but earlier Cook defended the decision to ban the app saying it was violating both the law and the company’s policy.
We said at the time that HKMap, that tracks police in Hong Kong, could be used by those wanting to keep safe and out of the way of the violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement – that’s the argument used by those criticizing Apple for the ban.
Others, however, pointed out that HKmap can also be used by protesters themselves to “evade the police” – and in addition, as Cook said at the time, “maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.”
Still, some Apple employees continued to call for the company they work for – one of the richest tech giants in the world – to “prioritize values over profits” for a change.