Apple has allegedly told its suppliers based in Taiwan Friday to follow Chinese customs relations and label products “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei,” following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the nation’s capital city, Taipei.
Nikkei Asia reports the U.S. tech giant urged suppliers to take the matter seriously to circumvent any possible disruptions in shipments of the company’s products or components.
Apple’s announcement comes before the company releases a slew of new devices between this fall and the beginning of next year, including four iPhone 14 devices, iPads, and Apple Watches, among other products due for an update.
Chinese customs agents have reportedly been ordered to check for any import declaration forms, documents, or cartons that utter the phrase “Made in Taiwan.” If caught violating such rules, suppliers could face penalties up to 4,000 yuan ($592), or have the shipment rejected altogether.
The custom laws have also put suppliers who need to ship materials and other parts from Taiwan to China in a problem as the island requires all exports to carry the words “Taiwan” or “Republic of China.”
Before Apple issued the warning, iPhone assembler Pegatron had its facilities in China undergo a review on Thursday, where officials checked imports if the manufacturing origins were mislabeled.
Nikkei Asia reports the change in shipments came a day after a senior Pegatron executive and other Taiwanese chip industry leaders met with Pelosi in Taipei at a lunch hosted by President Tsai Ing-wen.
Suppliers were reportedly told to review and change their labels on cartons and forms for shipments from Taiwan to China.
Apple did not respond with comment when asked by Nikkei Asia.
Insider Paper reports that GreatFire, an organization that works against Chinese online censorship, said the move comes after Apple removed the Taiwan flag from its emoji keyboards for users in Hong Kong and China.
“Is it a question of time before Apple starts removing apps whose name contains the characters [for] Taiwan without specifying ‘province of China?” GreatFire asked.
“Unfortunately, we suspect that Apple’s ‘red-line,’ the moment where it will say: ‘Stop, no longer, we cannot continue to collaborate with the Chinese regime and enforce its requests for censorship,’ is nowhere close,” Benjamin Ismail from GreatFire told Register.
Beijing officials have long-considered Taiwan part of its territory and opposed Pelosi’s diplomatic visits to the island. Following Pelosi’s trip, Taiwan faced a series of military drills and fighter jet flyovers from Chinese authorities.
China’s Foreign Ministry blasted Pelosi’s “vicious and provocative actions” in visiting the island, saying it “constitutes a gross interference in China’s internal affairs.”
“It gravely undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, seriously tramples on the one-China principle, and severely threatens peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday.
The Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly warned against the visit, and during a phone call last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Biden that the United States must not “play with fire.”
Greg Wilson contributed to this report.