Know-towing to China, contd.

It goes on and on. For example, this report from the NYT:

SAN FRANCISCO — Apple removed an app late Wednesday that enabled protesters in Hong Kong to track the police, a day after facing intense criticism from Chinese state media for it, plunging the technology giant deeper into the complicated politics of a country that is fundamental to its business.

Apple said it was withdrawing the app, called, from its App Store just days after approving it because authorities in Hong Kong said protesters were using it to attack the police in the semiautonomous city.

A day earlier, People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, published an editorial that accused Apple of aiding “rioters” in Hong Kong. “Letting poisonous software have its way is a betrayal of the Chinese people’s feelings,” said the article, which was written under a pseudonym that translates into “Calming the Waves.”

In a statement on Wednesday, Apple said, “The app displays police locations and we have verified with the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau that the app has been used to target and ambush police, threaten public safety, and criminals have used it to victimize residents in areas where they know there is no law enforcement. This app violates our guidelines and local laws.”

And then this (about Apple again) from The Verge:

News organization Quartz tells The Verge that Apple has removed its mobile app from the Chinese version of its App Store after complaints from the Chinese government. According to Quartz, this is due to the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong protests, and the company says its entire website has also been blocked from being accessed in mainland China.

The publication says it received a notice from Apple that the app “includes content that is illegal in China.”

In a statement, Quartz CEO Zach Seward, who assumed the role of chief executive just two days ago, tells The Verge that “We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet, and have great coverage of how to get around such bans around the world.” The statement points to the publications’ coverage of VPNs, which can be used to bypass restrictions on accessing certain parts of the internet from mainland China. Quartz also links out to its coverage of the Hong Kong protests.

Apple capitulating to the Chinese government is nothing new. The company’s deep business interests in China, which include a majority of its consumer electronics supply chain, mean that in almost all cases, it abides by the country’s censorship policies and its sensitive reactions to any and all criticism of the Chinese government.

What’s so interesting about recent developments is that the magical thinking that most Western companies (and most governments, come to that) have indulged in about China has been exposed as fatuous wishful thinking. As de Gaulle famously observed decades ago, “Great nations do not have friends, only interests.” China is flexing its muscles.

Why impeaching Trump might be a really bad idea.

From Axios

If Trump survives politically and is re-elected to serve another four years, Congress likely would have nowhere left to go in the event of another scandal, legal and political experts say — not because the House couldn’t impeach him again, but because it might be politically impossible.

So Democrats know they probably only get one shot at using impeachment to remove him from office.

Never before have we had a president who might be in a position to be re-elected after impeachment. Andrew Johnson wasn’t nominated for another term, Bill Clinton was already in his second term, and Richard Nixon resigned in his second term in the face of certain impeachment.

Yep. The Democrats need to think several moves ahead.

Kow-towing to China


China flexed its economic might against the U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA) on Tuesday by suspending broadcast arrangements after the Houston Rockets general manager tweeted support for anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Beijing’s power over international companies was also highlighted back in August when Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg stepped down after one of the airline’s pilots was found to have taken part in the protests.

With this latest swipe back at corporate business, China has underlined how sensitive it is to criticism and reinforced the strict rules it wants to be followed by overseas firms wanting to earn money in the country.

Charles Arthur’s comment on this is spot on:

“So who loses out, exactly? This is shaping up to be a defining cultural clash of the next decade. If China has the money to buy everything, and if it is the largest market for lots of western things, do companies which aren’t headquartered in China have to obey its rules? Why? Do you get a sort of cultural race to the bottom of obsequiousness (apologies for the image) because you can have more money?”

And this is just about companies that want to get into the Chinese market. Just wait until a country that has cut itself off from the EU tries to get a trade deal with the PRC. Imagine the pressure the UK government will put on newspapers (and even bloggers) to censor anything that might upset Xi Jinping & Co. It’ll make the row about chlorinated chickens look like a vicarage tea party.

Footnote In case you’re wondering, kow-tow is derived from a Chinese word which means “the act of deep respect shown by prostration, that is, kneeling and bowing so low as to have one’s head touching the ground”. A servile cringe, in other words.