Apple tells suppliers to use “Taiwan, China” on labels

Apple, which celebrates its self-proclaimed commitment to free speech and human rights, reportedly told its suppliers in Taiwan to label their components to describe Taiwan as a province of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

According to Japanese financial publication Nikkei, Apple warned its suppliers on Friday that China has tightened enforcement of a long-standing import rule “that parts and components made in Taiwan must be labeled as made in” Taiwan. , China” or “Chinese Taipei.”

The register asked Apple to comment on this report and iGiant used its freedom of speech to say nothing. If Apple was responding, it would probably say something like “We follow the law in the countries where we do business” or “we were just following orders”.

Taiwan was recognized as a sovereign country by the United Nations from 1949 until 1971, when the United Nations General Assembly voted to oust the Republic of China (Taiwan) and admit the PRC (Mainland China). Since then, the United States has maintained a “one China policy” that recognizes the PRC as China’s only legitimate government without accepting Chinese claims of sovereignty over Taiwan, officially a territory.

Nevertheless, the United States supplies arms to Taiwan and considers it an important trading partner – more than ever given the economic and strategic importance of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), which manufactures tons of chips for the America and the rest of the world.

While China and the United States have left Taiwan’s status ambiguous to avoid open war, the uneasy peace is often tested, as was the case this week when Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House representatives, traveled to Taiwan after being warned. away by the Chinese government.

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Pelosi’s visit infuriated the CCP, which responded by staging threatening military exercises and announcing countermeasures, including the suspension of military, legal and economic cooperation efforts between China and the United States. CCP authorities also disciplined Pelosi and her family. China’s decision to apply its import labeling rules to designate Taiwan as its own province likely stems from this outburst of spite.

Apple has thrived on relying on Chinese companies as part of its supply chain. But its reliance on China for product sales and assembly has prevented the company from challenging the gross abuses, despite claiming otherwise.

In September 2020, Apple released a document [PDF] titled “Our Commitment to Human Rights”. He says: “At Apple and throughout our supply chain, we prohibit harassment, discrimination, violence and retaliation of any kind – and we have zero tolerance for violations motivated by any form of prejudice or prejudice. of bigotry.”

Apple has shown a little more tolerance for the mass detention of Uyghur Muslims in China.

In December 2020, the Tech Transparency Project reported that Apple suppliers relied on forced labor. And in May 2021, a report by The Information accused seven of Apple’s suppliers of using forced labor in China’s Xinjiang region.

When US lawmakers proposed legislation to hold companies accountable for allowing suppliers to use forced labor, Apple lobbied against the bill, which was nevertheless signed into law by President Biden towards the end of the year. last. Apple also lobbied the SEC, unsuccessfully, to block a shareholder proposal to compel the company to disclose more details about supply chain labor practices.

After Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about his company’s supposed privacy commitment at the 2022 IAPP Global Privacy Summit, Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr challenged Cook in a public letter following Apple’s removal of the Voice of America app from its App Store in China.

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Benjamin Ismail, project manager for, associated with China-focused advocacy group Great Fire, said The register in an email that his organization responded to the Nikkei report on the labeling of Taiwanese products expressing concern by Twitter that it may only be a matter of time before Apple starts removing apps containing the characters “台湾/台灣” (Taiwan) without specifying “province of China” from its App Store.

“We asked if Apple would soon start censoring apps whose names don’t follow Beijing rules or because of their content,” Ismail said. “Unfortunately, this was not a rhetorical question or a sarcastic joke. We are well aware that such censorship is something that Apple is very capable of doing, as it has demonstrated time and again over the course of the last decade.”

As an example, Ismail pointed to Apple’s censorship of Taiwan flag emoji on iOS devices sold in Hong Kong and Macao.

“During the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong, [Apple] removed an app used by protesters for security purposes,” he said. “She gave very strict directives to her employees regarding their involvement in the movement, and excessively and severely restricted their freedom of expression.

“Unfortunately, we suspect that Apple’s ‘red line’, the moment it says ‘stop, stop, we cannot continue to collaborate with the Chinese regime and enforce its censorship demands’, is far from over. close,” Ismail said. “Apple has shown that it is willing to go to great lengths to secure the Chinese market, including violating sanctions by doing business with US sanctioned entities (see here, here, here and here).

“But we are determined to continue to speak out against Apple’s censorship and human rights abuses. No company, let alone a big tech company, should be allowed to put profit before human rights. man and individual liberties. ®

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