If true, this does not make me happy

I understand the business aspect of such a deal but I thought Cook painted himself a human rights advocate, and IMHO this is doesn’t fit that painting.


I would agree with you but this is in a way no surprise. My impression of Tim is $$$$ only and the rest does not matter

This doesn’t sound surprising. Apple is a business and the manufacturing provided by China has been one of the most important components in Apples’s recent success. It’s also the reason why Cook is the CEO.


Tim Cook’s entire modus operandi can be condensed to under 10 words.

“I’m a progressive first, and a bean counter firster.”


Gonna let this thread play out, but I don’t think we need to turn into a geopolitical forum haha.


There’s a line in the article about how Apple was able to maintain control of iCloud encryption keys in China as part of the deal, which indicates that Apple was considering something other than a straight-up profit motive. Also worth noting that this deal was struck all the way back in 2016, where we didn’t know everything we know now.

Most of the concessions seem to be of the category, “invest in our economy, and follow our laws”. The second is a given. The nature of the first would be where I might think that Tim Cook struck the wrong balance, but then again, I’m not sure what the other good options are.

A U.S. corporation isn’t in a position to make demands of any foreign power regarding the laws thereof, and there’s at least some argument for a more privacy-focused device and sync service being a net benefit to the citizens of a country with a more heavy-handed government.

The other option would seem to be to make a principled stand and exit the market in any country that didn’t meet Apple’s criteria for human rights and/or privacy, which is a valid route - but I’m not sure whether that route is “better” in an ontological sense. It’s another option, for sure.


Omg, that is unconscionable!

I imagine some of you watch the excellent Frontline episodes on PBS. I prefer Channel Thirteen out of New York because they don’t limit your access-> less hassles.

They made a special on Artificial Intelligence which blew me away. I still can scarcely believe what has been going on in China. Absolutely terrifying. They cover China mostly toward the middle of the program.


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Agreed, I have a lot of opinions on this but, hard though it is, I am going to refrain after one comment perhaps an over-long one, I promise. Really feel free to delete; I am not precious and not sure what I say is in line with the ethos of this excellent site.

I use and enjoy Apple products, along with a Jeep fueled by OPEC, roses for my wife’s birthday from Columbia produced in conditions as bad as any in China… One to one I have good relationships and good fun with Apple techs and support and the ‘community’.

David and Katie were like personal friends when I first came here, alone and tired, to the US, it has followed through to date with you joining in as it were. They, along with Click and Clack on NPR’s Car Talk, made me feel at home here for the first couple of years and to think about Apple qua corporation is quite grating as the realities clash as it were.

So! regarding

A U.S. corporation isn’t in a position to make demands of any foreign power regarding the laws thereof,

which @webwalrus states as if it were obvious, is clearly not true depending on how literal one wants to be, especially if you think of corporations collectively and as having a dominant role in our foreign policy. In fact, were collective corporate power to stop ‘making demands’, we would be a league ahead regarding human happiness probably.

Though it might have some truth in the case of China that we have little control over their domestic affairs, they were one of the few not to follow finance/corporate dictat via the World Bank, IMF etc…

China even kept clear of the spectre and weapon of Capital Flight which made corporations collectively more or less governments in exile for many States. Recently, where ‘we’, the US that is, had control and responsibility, we allowed Haiti to collapse into the wreck it is, I could go on to other obvious current examples.

It is not long since Marine General Smedley Butler complained he had been little more than a “hit man for United Fruit” in Central America at the end of a long much decorated career. Like the old USSR though China’s sins, though very real, are not ours, so it is fine to focus on them for, mostly at present, propaganda reasons in my view. Which, I make clear, does not make them ‘unreal’, ‘fake news’ or whatever.
What is Tim’s personal responsibility regarding the supply side in China as compared to mine or the rest of us… I can’t decide; I truthfully cannot decide; good people, in wars and otherwise do bad things, often unknowingly.
You should see the pile of plastic waste I produced this week too. I liked the ‘clickety clack’ interlude last show. Be safe and well.


I have to say I am puzzled. I did reply sort of to Steven directly above, but on reflection I don’t quite understand what you are unhappy about or what this has to do with Human Rights; directly anyway? I think @webwalrus is making a similar point though his framework is very different from mine. On the face of it this is a deal involving sharing skills and technological know how, which, in light of the so called “Free Trade” deals made globally recently which are in fact extreme copyright protectionism on a global scale, seems a positive thing to do. Is there an aspect of this deal I don’t know about, beyond the one paragraph on Ars Technica I could access?

All countries use incentives and so on to ‘cut deals’ if they can and in the contexts they find themselves in, often a much weaker one than China has; often helping the race to the tax-bottom. That, I agree, is an issue of great concern that Apple is deeply implicated in, but not in my view a human rights issue: or is that just the standard rock now to throw at China whatever they do if it is in any way seen as counter to US corporate interests in general?

I also wonder what it is exactly that you object to @Katie ? Is it just the problems of automation, which are far more prevalent in America than in China: giving us now what I argue is a dual economy, getting closer and closer to a kind of permanent and unruly underclass living in a parallel America really.

Tudor, if you have time and are so inclined, check out the Frontline episode. Technology ie computers have taken on a role in China that would leave George Orwell aghast. They are instruments of mind-boggling oppression.

Individuals patronizing companies with ties to Colombian flowers and the recycling of plastics are hardly the same as supporting a government which uses technology to suppress the most basic human rights of its citizens.

I only clicked on this subject because I assumed it was about clickbait headlines.

I found the program Orwellian itself and rushed, ill thought out and confusing. Covering the Orwellian information manipulation and other problems with AI in the West as it were, while at the same time being Orwellian in its own right. Takes NPR to do that I guess. Yes tech can be used by authoritarian regimes. I have seen similar endless checks and pat down in the UK over long periods of time though, not confined to China. Machetes can be used by dictators too, often with more brutal results, since the right to life is the most basic I assume. hundreds of thousands in Latin America to date, in Orwellian style, mostly called ‘insurgents’ or some other term. Sometimes not even that smokescreen can be cooked up, like in the case of Oscar Romero in El Salvador.

The point about Roses was perhaps not clear, the real point was the human rights abuses and atrocities in Latin America in the service of trade and resource extraction that we could actually do something about in fact have supported with a vengeance for some time: in contrast to the sins of our current enemies or scapegoats which is what the Frontline program focused on at the very end. Real enough sins too, like those of the USSR when a similar dynamic played out during the Cold War.
I could go on but I said to Steven one comment was enough from me, of course I couldn’t resist the bait and did this one as well. It has to be the last. Thanks for the link.

This link will let you read the original article from The Information if you provide your email. Inside Tim Cook’s Secret $275 Billion Deal with Chinese Authorities — The Information