Over the weekend, Apple Inc.’s Tim Cook and Google’s Sundar Pichai appeared at China’s World Internet Conference, where Cook, seeking to increase his company’s success in the biggest market it has outside of North America, doubled down on his approval of China censoring communications.
Most of Apple’s products are manufactured in China, but as Bloomberg reports, Apple is “trying to regain market share in smartphones against local competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co.”
Cook gushed, “The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share. We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace." He pointed out that Apple helps support over five million jobs in China.
China wants a more censored and controlled internet; Apple is cooperating. In November, Apple yanked Microsoft Corp.’s Skype phone and video service from the Chinese version of its app store; Cook told investors it was a good business move. China blocks Facebook, Twitter and various Western commercial and educational web sites.
Unlike Apple, Google Inc., withdrew from China, deciding not to comply with censorship rules.
As The Washington Post reported, Maya Wang at Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong wrote in response to Cook’s appearance:
Cook’s appearance lends credibility to a state that aggressively censors the internet, throws people in jail for being critical about social ills, and is building artificial intelligence systems that monitors everyone and targets dissent. The version of cyberspace the Chinese government is building is a decidedly dystopian one, and I don’t think anyone would want to share in this “common future.” Apple should have spoken out against it, not endorsed it.