China Insider

China Insider | Student Protests and the CCP, the Trump China Policy, and Apple Caves

Senior Fellow and Director, China Center
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Shane Leary joins Miles Yu to discuss comparisons drawn on Chinese social media between protesters on American campuses and the Red Guard of the Cultural Revolution. They then discuss recent concerns over how United States–China relations relations might change if Donald Trump is elected for a second term, before turning to Apple's recent decision to remove certain apps from its devices in China.  

China Insider is a weekly podcast project from Hudson Institute's China Center, hosted by Miles Yu, who provides weekly news that mainstream American outlets often miss, as well as in-depth commentary and analysis on the China challenge and the free world’s future. 

Episode Transcript

This transcription is automatically generated and edited lightly for accuracy. Please excuse any errors.

Miles Yu:

Welcome to China Insider, a podcast from the Hudson Institute’s China Center. I am Miles Yu, senior fellow and director of the China Center. Join me each week along with my colleague, Shane Leary, for our analysis of the major events concerning China, China threat, and their implications to the US and beyond.

It’s Tuesday, May 7th and we have three topics this week. The first is Miles’ thoughts on comparisons that have been drawn on Chinese social media between pro-Palestine, protestors on American campuses, and the Red Guard of the cultural revolution. We then talk about recent concerns regarding America-China relations under a potential second Trump term. And finally, we discuss Apple removing several apps from its Chinese marketplace under pressure from the CCP, and the broader moral obligations that corporations have when dealing with regimes like the CCP. Miles, How are you?

Miles Yu:

Very good, Shane.Nice to be with you again.

Shane Leary:

Yes, wonderful to be here. So, for our first topic, I want to ask something that might seem a bit off the wall, so I’ll just preface it here. That is, oftentimes critics of political opponents will draw parallels to radicals on the opposite side with regimes either today or in the past. So people obviously love to do this with right-wing Americans and authoritarian regimes or fascists. But so too, do people compare people on the far left in America to various communist regimes, China included. And with the current campus protests going on, some have drawn comparisons to other student led radical movements, in particular, Mao’s Red Guard, which was of course a paramilitary social movement comprised of students during the culture revolution. So obviously that was a different time, different political circumstances, but what do you say to those who draw that comparison? Would you draw that comparison yourself?

Miles Yu:

Not exactly the same, but there’s a lot of similarities, particularly when you consider the social, intellectual, and the particular conditions. Conditions are different. Of course, [the] cultural revolution took place in the environment where you have one supreme leader has absolutely power and [inaudible] the young college and high school kids, and to be the red guards here in the United States. I mean, it’s a democratic society and there’s a law and order. There is opposition by the way, and then there is are not responding to a supreme leader or the government. So from the top down. So the United Essence is very different, but as I say, the conditions have some very similar features. Number one, both red guards and in the pro-Palestinian protestors, in the Chinese cyberspace there are known as a Hamas guards, red guards versus Hamas guards, 红卫兵, 哈卫兵. They’re both sort of influenced by the saturation of media propaganda.

In China, you had [the whole] propaganda machine running nonstop. That’s basically get all these great guards excited and animated. In the United States, we have the legacy media like the New York Times and a lot of social media pretty much like left the leaning media outlets and they put out a lot of very excitable reports in order to highlight the oppression narrative. For example, the New York Times on last Friday run a headline and the headlines very telling it that says how counter protestors at the UCLA provoked violence unchecked for hours. So, the violence basically became the result of the counter protestors, the people who are basically pro-Israel and against the Hamas [inaudible] protestors. So this is a very misleading, that’s why people get really, really animated. Second condition, I think that’s very impressive is that both red guards and the Pro-Palestine protest in recent weeks had some kind of oppression narrative, a simple narrative to animate and radicalize the mob.

In China, it was the narrative of great chairman Mao was besieged by Marxist trailers, by foreign agents led by a bourgeois headquarters. That’s basically what gets people really, really excited. The red guard to all believe in that. That’s why there were guard, guards against all this malign influence of foreign, particularly Soviet revisionist, treacherous thoughts. Here in America, the narrative is the oppression of the Palestinians by the Jews who are aided and abetted by American imperialism. It’s [inaudible] simplistic and wacky. But on today’s university campuses, this is a part of the core curriculum and it has become a norm and a banality. So radical thoughts express through words like oppression, imperialism, capitalism and consciousness raising are no longer outlandish and farfetched. So that’s why if you watch tv, you watch all the expressions by those Palestinian protestors over there and they were really, really full of all those semantics and jargons of the operation narrative.

And number three, I think there’s also, they were influenced by pretty much like communist modus operandi. There are similar kind of methods. New York City mayor Eric Adams said last week all of the people arrested on some of the major universities campuses in New York City are not students but outsiders. They’re professional agitators. This indicates that this is the well-organized, well-funded and a well-purposed protest, not necessarily spontaneous and lawful. This is all very familiar to many of us who grew up China and also at least to understand the Chinese history, because it is so similar to the CCP’s modus operandi of making revolution through its United Front work, which means that clandestine organizational methods with professional agitators, Vladimir Lenin called these people the vanguard of the proletariat. We call them infiltrators. If you look at closely, there’s a remarkable similarity in the way the CCP and Hamas run their organizations.

The highest political organization inside any communist party, do you know what it’s called? It’s called Politburo, the Chinese Communist Party right now Politburo has seven people, of course the chairman of the Politburo, the political bureau of the essential committee is Xi Jinping. So guess what, the highest political organization, a power authority in the Hamas, do you know what it’s called? It’s called Politburo. China. CCP Politburo has seven members. The Hamas Politburo has fifteen members, and the leader is Ismail Haniyeh. So that’s basically it’s the most wonder people. Now below Politburo is what Hamas is called the Shura Council. Do you know what the Shura Council is? The Shura Council, its the job is to elect Politburo. So, it’s very much like a Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party, right? Central committees have known some 200 some people over there. Now the governing body of China is the state council, which is the far less important.

It’s the same thing. And Hamas’ a government body is ranked very, very low. Its leader, it’s called Prime Minister. So the Prime Minister basically implemented policy decided by Politburo. Now you’ll notice that is very important part of the Chinese Communist Party overseas international organizational operandi is the So-called United Front Work. United Front is a semi-underground clandestine and it’s very important in [the] Chinese Communist Party’s methods of making revolution as it called Mao Famous said there are three magic weapons of Chinese Communist Party. Number one is United Front, basically infiltration and capturing the hearts or minds of overseas destabilizing adversaries home front. Number two is arm struggle, the army. And number three is party construction. Basically you have party sales in unit of the society. Now in Hamas, the organization chart, they have two government bodies that’s ranked very high. One is in parallel with the Shura Council. It’s called the delegates abroad. So, Hamas has a lot of overseas international delegates.

United Front, yeah, they’re the United Front. They were on university campuses, corporate boards, and some of the, particularly there’s one department which basically is an equivalent to China’s UNITED FRONT It’s called a Palestinian Diasporic Affairs, whose job is exclusively to organize pro-Palestinian agenda abroad in countries like the UK, United States, France, Germany and Africa and Asia, right? So that’s basically is there. Now the Gaza Affairs Department is way down and there’s West Bank Affairs over there and that’s basically right. So organizationally, I think there must be some kind of connection between Hamas International arms and protest. I mean you can see this, the university campuses, they have hundreds of tents encampment set up by the protestors. They’re all the same brand, they’re all the same color. Somebody bought for them to this. Those were organized over there. Now of course that alone doesn’t say much, but I think there it’s very curious.

Of course you’re going to draw the connection over there. Now number four, I think it has something to do with the protests themselves. Red guards, they’re young, they’re impressionable. There are students, colleges, and mostly some high school kids there. You can see on tv this wave of protest in the United States. There are overwhelmingly college kids. Mao famously said, when he found the college kids to be his red guards, he famously said, youth are like the rising sun around eight or nine o’clock in the morning full of hope. This basically is a Palestinian protests like the same thing. They’re college students, they’re young and they’re gullible in a way. Now both chairman Mao and Hamas all know how to use the students as the basis of their movements. It occurs usually around the time of the final exams when students are most miserable.

Street protest gives the students a sanctimonious self-justifying excuse not to study for the final exams. I am speaking this as a college professor as well. So I know the student psychology, not to trivialize the protest themselves. I’m just putting in my two cents here. But it’s true that the 1960s American campus uprising started in a fourth semester final exam weeks in 1964 in a place called Berkeley, which is my alma mater. That’s like early December, right? Mao did even more resolutely and he told the students just quit school, beat up their professor and teachers and go out and loot and rally against the bourgeoisie. The Palestinian protestors here in America erupted during the spring semester final exam weeks. Many students basically participated in just, they don’t want to participate in the final exam. Now, corrupt professors encourage such anti-intellectual rebellion. I just saw yesterday a Columbia professor told his students not to come to the final exam this week and he would give every protesting student an A in a class.

Wow. Now basically that’s corruption, right? So no matter how sympathetic you are to the causes of the protestors, you don’t sacrifice your academic and pedagogical integrity to do that kind of stuff. And you can see many of the students now protestors will begin to worry about their grades. I think they probably should have thought about earlier. One difference between red guard and those Palestinian protestors is that destructiveness, the destructiveness are very different. That’s because of different environments. As I say, in mass China, there is only one at the top. There’s no law, there’s no order. So, in America, despite all those very uproarious protest, there is a legitimate silent majority resisting the Pro-Palestinian protestors, while there was none during the great proletarian cultural revolution in China in 1960 and seventies.

Shane Leary:

I wanted to get at that difference. I mean, before I do, it is incredible when you talk about giving out, As for people who protest, the degree to which this activism has just overtaken any sense of decorum or intellectual purpose in the university. But going to these differences, I mean let’s say someone pushes back and I mean the parallels you’ve drawn are fascinating. There was a certain brutality to the red guard that we obviously don’t see today, but we are seeing an increase in radical youth and we’re seeing agitation and protests that is not always, sometimes it moves beyond speech, I’d say like occupying a building, things like that. They start to inch towards violence in some sense and given the right opportunity that can spill into more extreme behavior. So I guess my question is, you highlighted of the factors, the social, political, intellectual factors and the impression, the degree to which the students were impressionable, those last two, the intellectual and the impressionable element. Were these apparent in students in China before the red guards’ formation? Were there preconditions where one could see this was exploitable or that there was a concerning trends? Or did it seem to come out of nowhere? And I guess do you see similar trends today in America’s youth?

Miles Yu:

All you need basically is you need a narrative to need kind of a mindset. In China, it’s called the consciousness raising. You basically elevate people’s abstract understanding of the world’s problems. Of course, in [the] communist world, it’s operation. So because the operation is intrinsic in the alienating nature of capitalism has nothing to do with ourselves. It has to do with other incidental factors and such conditions. It has to do with the nature of the very system that we’re born into. So that’s why the only way to escape that kind of alienation operation is to liberate. So the way is liberation, right? So the Chinese Communist Party always wants to liberate everybody. The party’s mission is to liberate human society from bourgeois institution, capitalism. It’s army, it is called the People’s Liberation Army. I mean the Palestinian cause, the most famous ones called the Palestinian Liberation Organization, PLO.

So this is the same kind of liberation ideology is very important. China definitely had that. That’s basically the communist indoctrination, if you will. And by the time the cultural revolution took place, then everybody must be imposed, imbued with that kind of ideology. Here in America, I don’t think it is total wholesale ideological indoctrination, but the liberation ideology and some of the left wing movements definitely dominated American intelligentsia on American campuses. I’ll give you one example. They’re predominant mentality. The predominant slogan of today’s sort of a radical feminist movement in the United States. Do you know what it is? It’s called consciousness raising. Consciousness raisin 提高觉悟. This came straight, even the phrase it’s itself came straight from early 1940s from the Chinese communist enclave of Yan’an from Mao. Incredible. It was the time magazine reporter Teddy White who brought that phrase to American mainstream when in 1960 sixties when Teddy White wrote a book called In Search of History, and he documented that kind of connection and it basically is everywhere. I mean, if you go to American campuses today is absolutely a crime, a repulsion to even wear a T-shirt with Hitler’s image on your T-shirt. But you go around, you wear a shirt of Chairman Mao, is probably not going give you a lot of trouble. And that’s basically is a very sad reality and I think we have a lot of work to do.

Shane Leary:

So Miles, for a second topic. There’s been a surge of interest in the disagreements on foreign policy between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, but perhaps more importantly, what China’s reaction might be to a second Trump presidency. So why has there been a surge of interest in this question and what’s at stake?

Miles Yu:

Well, there is a surge in interest of the American presidential election in November is because Donald Trump is leading in the poll. Every single credible poll indicates that Donald Trump may actually end up winning, that give the world a lot of headache and anxiety at least. So everybody wants to know what the second Donald Trump term and particularly China policy might be like. So I don’t think this worry is really that necessary because you can see there’s, there will be a lot of continuity. Continuity is based upon what President Trump had started already and also continuity based upon what those new channel policies during the first Trump term have been carried over, endorsed by the Biden team. There is very little fundamental differences between the Trump’s China policy versus Biden’s policy, China policy. So I don’t think, those continuities are huge. Most importantly, the non-government forces, non-executive forces, the Congress is a policy on China has remained very strong, robust.

There’s the bipartisan consensus still there. The American people by the way, also has a near national consensus. Americans do not agree on almost everything from China. China a year ago. China’s negative rating among Americans about 83% last week. The new poll is 83% almost unchanged. If you have a country that has 81% of negative opinion in the country, the country would have a very strong support. No politician could ignore that. So that’s why continuity is very important. Whatever happened in the first term, it will be much more efficient, much more organized. The prospect of the second Donald Trump term has not only caused the international reaction.Domestically, there has been a lot of, there is also suddenly there is a lot of debates about our China policy, mostly from the think tanks themselves and some media outlets, legacy media outlets. Most of the debates in my view are missing the whole point and they’re going back to the same old policy of the past, which is not very effective.

For example, let me just lay out, take some examples of the several representative pieces here. Number one, the last Thursday, the Wall Street Journal had a front page article about how China is bracing for the stormy second term of Trump as if this is something that unexpected. Now if you look at the first several paragraphs, it’s very interesting. So it starts by saying, last year as Mike Pompeo’s memoir, never give an inch, made the [inaudible] among China’s leaders. One passage in particular enraged the Xi Jinping, the Secretary of State under former president Donald Trump, wrote that the US should grant [inaudible] diplomatic recognition on Taiwan to Taiwan.

This is a little bit strange because it makes it sound like that Xi Jinping suddenly read this whole thing when the book came out several months ago and he was really upset. The fact is Secretary Pompeo made this exactly same statement two years before that. There’s no way Xi Jinping would not have known a former Secretary of State openly advocating for the recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign government. So I mean the first progress problematic. I knew this because I was with Secretary Pompeo when he announced this in March, 2021. And also this article continues, the Wall Street Journal article is Xi’s anger at the remark, foreshadowed a broader worry coursing through Beijing. What awaits China should Trump and his inner circle regain power? I mean there’s no foundation for this kind of writing because of course they know what’s coming up. The examples was there as if China doesn’t play any role at all in deciding the bilateral relationship.

They’re just waiting what’s going on in Washington DC. This is completely untrue. And then the article continues. Trump’s four years in the White House had brought turmoil to the relationship. Really, it’s a Trump’s four years. We did this. China had no role in the turmoil? This is basically the problem of Washington thinking. We never give enough, if anything at all, if any at all, the agency, the Chinese Communist Party can play in deciding the nature, tenure, and temperature of the bilateral relationship. It’s always how United States is doing and that will decide everything that’s not true. That’s very narcissistic American thinking. If anything, the Trump administration, one of the biggest breakthroughs, was to give China the primary agency in deciding the nature of the US-China relationship. So it is not all about us.

Shane Leary:

And by that you mean insofar as we began to blame China and speak frankly with them about their behavior, we were giving them agency by…

Miles Yu:

This is not just simple, childish blame game. If you talk about the major issues between United States and China, trading imbalance, intellectual property rights, regional security, none of these crises or caused by the United States, it was China’s behavior. China played a central role in causing this problem. We have to deal with this not necessarily through confrontation. Even though confrontation, if it’s inevitable, we have to embrace that. So you cannot negotiate away China’s behavior. You have to deal with all bunch of other policy implications to make China realize what they do will have consequences, either reputational consequences or real economic financial consequences. So, if you want the bilateral relationship to be healthy, smooth, and normal, China has to change its behavior. So it’s not about the United States. So the only thing that we do is we have to make concessions to China, agree to China’s term of discourse.

This has been the wrong policy since 1972. This is why we have to change. So, this kind of old tone writing is not helpful. Secondly, I read another one just yesterday. It’s an article published in the Foreign Affairs entitled The Real Motives for China’s Nuclear Expansion is by a scholar Zhao Tong and who is a longtime Chinese nuclear policy expert. Now he’s just down the street from Hudson as a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This article tried to justify China’s rapid buildup of nuclear weapons and it suggests that America’s security interest are illegitimate. And I quote this, this paragraph is very interesting. “Beijing’s objections to what sees as an unfair US nuclear strategy and an illegitimate US security interest further solidify its willingness to using unilateral measures to address its security concern.” This just blame the United States. Our concern is totally illegitimate.

Therefore, China’s rapid development of nuclear weapons is a legitimate, normal and justified. This is to make China’s aggressive arms buildup to fundamentally destabilize the world peace as a normal change, normal move because it is according to this author, out of just grievances against America’s illegitimate unfair and unilateral determines stance. This is ridiculous. I wonder if the author has ever asked any governments along China’s land and American borders, China has been bullying and threatening all of them with all sorts of weapons, including nuclear weapons. They claim that China’s nuclear program is not for military purposes, but for [the] geopolitical purpose of gaining international respect. This claim also is a little bit silly. It’s even laughable. There are better ways to gain international respect, but arming yourself to teeth with the nukes by a government has an irascible temper of the cantankerous old crank is certainly not the best way to gain respect. 

With China’s ongoing conventional and a nuclear buildup at the rapid rate, what the CCP has gained throughout the civilized world is not respect but fear. That fear alone justifies America’s continuing, maintaining its nuclear deterrence, deterrence for peace, not for grabbing anybody’s territories or sovereign bodies of water. And then there’s another piece I read just over the weekend, actually published last Friday by the American opinion leader, his name is Zacharia Fareed in the Washington Post. The title of this article is The Dangerous New Call for Regime Change in Beijing. This article was written in response to Mike Pollinger and Mike Gallagher’s article calling for challenging China’s regime, head on. A dangerous new call for regime change. Really? The author is channeling the Chinese government’s narrative that the US government wants to conduct regime change in China. Well first of all, the American government has said there’s no such a plan for regime change in China. Secondly, the regime should be changed because the Chinese Communist Party regime is not, if this regime is not changed, that regime will change all of us.

In fact, the Chinese regime is conducting a robust campaign, a regime change in America. I mean, look at this. It is a massively infiltrating Americans defense industry, information, education technology sectors. China is running a big propaganda campaign in the United States through its proxies in Wall Street, K Street, and Massachusetts Avenue. The important American thought leaders, there are also many of them, were talking on behalf of Chinese government. Some professor from Harvard in particular. China has stolen some of the most crucial data systems of grave national security significance, including the entire federal employees security clearance and personnel records from the Office of Personnel Management, the entire president of financial records of Equifax, one of the three most important financial score ratings corporation in America affecting hundreds of millions of Americans, but perhaps mostly egregiously, Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken said two weeks ago, US government has tangible evidence to prove that the Chinese government has been interfering in American’s election processes.

Now that is a political as well as a criminal act against the American system. So I guess the question really is about this, not about region change. It is about who should change the regime? Should Americans take the lead in terms of self-defense? Maybe we should, but I don’t think we have to because the element that wants to change the regime in China much, much more is the Chinese people who are under Orwellian control and repression by the communist regime. What we should do is to help the Chinese people to free themselves from the shackles of the regime’s repression and control. So we can do it very easily because both the Chinese and American leaders have a vow to channel to enhance people to people interaction. I don’t think Chinese leadership is really, they really mean it to have the really people to people exchange because we should never trust Chinese Communist party promises.

Well, we can act as if we did, right? So sooner or later, genuine people to people engagement will facilitate the change in China. So the problem is the government has really controlled the access to the Chinese people. I mean we have like what, 300? Over 300,000 Chinese students studying there. Our Americans, because the Chinese government set all kinds of barriers for study in China, number no fewer than 1000. That’s a huge difference right now. So in response to Washington Post’s article by Mr. Fareed, what I would suggest is that let’s talk less about whether we should do regime change in China or not, but spending more time talking about how to stop China’s a well-orchestrated campaign to change regime right here in the United States and how to assist the Chinese people in their pursuit of changes for a better China for them and also for all of us in the world.

Those articles, opinion pieces have two major problems. First of all, they are epistemologically flawed, and secondly, they’re factually incorrect. Epistemologically speaking, these unenlightened writings ignore the preponderant agency of China in our bilateral relationship, for not everything is decided by what the US does or doesn’t do. The tensions in bilateral relationship are overwhelmingly caused by China’s behavior, not by the American’s response to this behavior. So factually speaking, the implication in all these writings is that the US-China relations during the Trump administration was full of chaos instabilities and the crisis more so than during the Biden. This is factually incorrect. The relationship was tense in the Trump administration. Yes, definitely. But it was far more stable. It is tense but stable with far fewer crises because all the bad guys knew that Americans finally made business. There has been a remarkable continuity in both Trump and the Biden administrations on China policy. The theatrics by our opinion leaders are truly just that, drama and the theatrics that bear little resemblance to reality. The potential return of Trump to the White House will not really change that continuity because momentum was started by his own administration in the first place.

Shane Leary:

I think that’s a great point and to your point about regime change, I mean Americans are obviously wary given the last several decades of foreign policy and what’s perceived as misadventures. But as you say, I mean that doesn’t preclude us from judging regimes with a clear-eyed moral judgments. And it certainly doesn’t preclude us from exchanging those judgments in people to people interactions. But it is amazing, as you say. I mean, there is continuity in the Biden administration. People have on both sides of the aisle, I think come to agreement with the stance that Trump brought us to, which is that China posed a significant threat. And just to put a point on it, I mean as you say, you talk about stability during the Trump administration. I mean, would you say China has been more aggressive under the Biden administration or has that aggression been consistent since we took a more candid approach under Trump?

Miles Yu:

Oh, the answer is absolutely. I mean, China has been far more aggressive during the Biden demonstration than during the Trump administration. That’s because China sees our willingness by the Biden administration for cooperation as a weakness. So that’s why they explored this. During the Trump administration. There’s no crisis like post Pelosi visit to Taiwan. There was no crisis when China challenged the United States, so blatantly, almost all domains, right? So because you have to deal with China from the point of view of strength, China is strong, is increasingly capable, but China is not a 800 pound gorilla. China has enormous vulnerabilities and weaknesses over there. China has a security paranoia. It’s a very paranoia. Paranoia regime is not really strong. It is profoundly for its own people. It’s profoundly afraid of being contained by the international community because China does not only have a problem with the United States.

China has a problem with virtually every other major country in the world. So that’s why China has this very big fear and we have to really stand up and act like a leader of the world. And basically the problem China poses to the United States, not just United States, everybody else. So I give great credit for more efficiently with the friends and allies. But the time’s different. During the Trump time, most allies, friends were not with us. They didn’t realize the China’s threat to themselves. They thought it was just the US and China interaction. That’s not true. So I think right now the timing is better and it’s better environment to work with them. I’m positive that if President Trump will return to the White House, this international alliance against China’s aggression, Chinese threat will be much, much better. And because we have all matured, we have much more willingness exhibited, exhibited by our friends and allies.

Shane Leary:

That’s well said. For our last topic, this is from a couple news cycles ago, but still very relevant. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 19th that the Chinese Communist Party through the cyberspace administration of China ordered Apple to remove several messaging apps, namely Signal, WhatsApp, and Telegram, all of which use encryption for privacy as part of their offering as well as the X or Twitter competitor Threads. So Miles Apple did comply with this. A spokesperson said, of course they’re required to follow the laws in the countries where they operate, but Apple has landed themselves in hot water with others over there dealing with China, particularly yourself on this podcast in the past. So what do you make of this and their decision to sort of roll over.

Miles Yu:

This idea of we have to apply, we have to comply to Chinese law is ridiculous. About two decades ago we faced the same problem. So the Congress had the congressional hearing calling all the CEOs of Yahoo, Cisco to Congress to testify. And their argument is that we have to comply with Chinese law. We have to turn over disciplines information to Chinese authorities. Some this actually were caught based upon the information provided by some American companies, but they said they were complied with the Chinese law. And then the congressman, Chris Smith from New Jersey asked a very appointed question. He said, well, during World War II, when Germany, Nazi Germany occupied the Netherlands, should the Dutch police turn over Anne Frank to the German occupation force just so that they would comply to the local law? So you have to really sort of take a stand. 

Business involves a lot of ethical, moral and legal consequences as well. Apple has been very terrible in this regard. Apple basically is the biggest company in terms of capitalization in the United States, but Apple also is the biggest collaborator with Chinese government on censorship, on many other things. For example, apple long ago agree to store all personal data of Chinese users of their iPhones on servers located within China. And in this data center inside China is managed by Chinese state-owned company. That’s terribly compromising on security. Apple basically also comply with Chinese demands. They basically take off all those apps from App store of VPN services that would help users bypass Chinese internet censorship as well as apps that are related to news, political contents and civil rights. This is a shameful of Apple. And Apple even complied with Chinese demands and make concessions regarding the display of Taiwan and Hong Kong on its products.

And they would label Taiwan as part of a Chinese territory. And this is also shameful. And also the Apple just modify its maps app, maps app for users in China because they take out all this what Chinese governments considered sensitive locations and adjusting available geographic data. And Apple also complied with Chinese demands to disable FaceTime group calls in its Apple devices, the iOS devices as well. So in China. So this has been a pattern. And not only that, apple also invested heavily in Chinese companies that helped the Chinese government to kick out American competitors that the government of China views dangerous and potentially subversive, especially for example, Uber wants to go to China and the Chinese government doesn’t like that because they don’t want the taxi drivers running around the country talking to foreigners, but it is hard for them to buy. So Apple instead invested 1 billion in Didi, which is a competitor to Uber in China.

Eventually Didi took over and Uber was kicked out of China. So the kills Uber’s chance to survive in China at all because China would never allow assistance to drive vehicles around the country at will. So this is just one example. Apple did that. And so this week, Apple once again complies with Chinese demand and it took down WhatsApp and Threads, and both are owned by Apple’s domestic competitor Meta, which also owns Facebook. So this is just a very, very anti-market. It should be banned. So I mean, you will think, I don’t know this has happened, but if this Apple logic continues, you can easily see Apple has this incentive to co-op with the Chinese Communist government to prevent Elon Musk, for example, from developing a smartphone to challenge iPhone in China because the stake will be very, very high for the Chinese government. Do you know why?

Because Elon Musk has Starlink. Starlink can be the most subversive of war to the Chinese communist regime whose region survival to a larger degree depends upon this very effective great firewall. So Starlink has the potential to break that wall. So we often condemn many American companies that did business with the Nazis in the thirties and forties, General Motors, ITT, and the Eastman Kodak Hollywood, the movie for example, all quiet on the Western front, as demanded by the German Nazi regime. So Hollywood did that, and some studios even are afraid of the Nazi Germany’s threat to ban all the movies to be shown in Germany. And today, Apple and Hollywood have not learned the bitter lessons in World War II and it became the collaborators with the tyrannical government of our time. So that’s a shame.

Shane Leary:

It is a shame, and I think it’s good to remind ourselves that executives do not shed their identity as citizens when they enter the boardroom and they still have moral obligations. But Miles, I think that’s all the time we have this week. Thanks so much and look forward to doing this again next week.

Miles Yu:

Okay, thank you very much. See you next week. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of China Insider. I’d like to thank my colleague Shannon Leary, for taking part in this undertaking every week. I’d also like to thank our executive producer, Philip Hegseth, who works tirelessly and professionally behind the scenes for every episode. To make sure we deliver the best quality podcast to you, the listeners, if you enjoy the show, please spread the words for Chinese listeners. Please check our monthly review and analysis episode in Chinese. We’ll see you next time.