Further evidence that China has some measure of control over Apple.
In early 2018 as development on Apple’s slate of exclusive Apple TV+ programming was underway, the company’s leadership gave guidance to the creators of some of those shows to avoid portraying China in a poor light, BuzzFeed News has learned. Sources in position to know said the instruction was communicated by Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of internet software and services, and Morgan Wandell, its head of international content development. It was part of Apple’s ongoing efforts to remain in China’s good graces after a 2016 incident in which Beijing shut down Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies six months after they debuted in the country.
Apple’s far from alone here. Making big-budget movies and TV shows China-friendly is de rigueur in Hollywood today, and Apple TV+ is now a player in Hollywood. But how is this not a victory for the stifling of free speech?
The NBA-wide genuflecting to China is just one disturbing example of a much larger problem as U.S. companies have wiped Taiwan off their maps, erased Tibetan characters from American films, and expelled or cut ties with anyone who dared suggest that democracy is better than China’s one-party rule, and that liberty is better than living in an authoritarian surveillance state. These corporate chicken-hearts include: Apple, American Airlines, Blizzard Entertainment, Coach, Delta Air Lines, Disney, ESPN, Gap, Marriott, Nike, Ray-Ban, Tiffany, Vans, and Viacom…
Those business “leaders” who have tacitly endorsed Chinese policy are too afraid of losing their access to China’s 1.4 billion consumers, or its marvelously cheap and efficient supply chains, to bother about any of that. And in fairness, they do have a duty to protect shareholders’ investments and to increase their value if possible, and therefore arguably have no moral obligation to stand up for liberty.
That may be a fundamental indictment of American capitalism, as many have suggested over the past few days. But one can never indict “markets” without implicating millions of co-conspirators: the shareholders and consumers who will keep buying the companies’ shoes and watching their movies and attending their games no matter how eagerly they parrot the Chinese Communist Party line.
The rich world is still a much more valuable market for these companies than even 1.4 billion consumers with low to moderate incomes. If the public had ever demanded that they stand up for liberty, they’d have quickly become champions of freedom. But we won’t, so they don’t.