Apple’s attempts to make its business dealings with China purely pragmatic and exempt from political issues and policy considerations is continuing, although it’s hard to say if it’s going well – considering that the pressure to change this approach is unlikely to relent.
For the moment, the US tech behemoth has chosen the route of ignoring US congressional hearings dedicated to its ties with China that were scheduled to go ahead in March.
This is the second time Apple has done this.
The hearing is taking place as part of a probe into issues concerning tech privacy and security, particularly in view of China’s possible interference, and Apple’s reliance on its relationship with China.
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The first hearing was held in November, and both times Apple was joined by China’s viral video app TikTok in failing to show up or submit testimony.
Both times, the invitations were sent by Senator Josh Hawley, who has been a persistent critic of US giants on a number of issues, including their relationships with China.
In reality, because most US tech companies have been banned from the Chinese market, it’s Apple that bears the brunt of this criticism, as well as Google, when it starts looking for ways of returning to China.
While continuing to snub US congressional hearings, TikTok this time promised to give its testimony at a later date, while Apple has so far not dignified the invitation with any kind of official response.
In the past, Apple defended its dealings by saying it was complying with Chinese law when storing data on Chinese soil.
This is seen by Hawley and many other critics as potentially compromising user security due to China’s surveillance efforts.
Since Apple has lately been building its brand on promises of privacy and security that other giants can’t offer due to their business models, this type of criticism must be particularly jarring.
Big powers all have mass surveillance programs of one kind or another, and they are all growing more and more uncomfortable with the idea of data of their citizens stored on foreign soil.
But perhaps Apple is these days a big power in its own right, capable of ignoring these concerns.