How Apple Sold Out the Chinese People
This is a short story, and it’s a short story about the media as much as it is about the subjects it would otherwise obviously be about: like the ethics of large firms, the money-China question, and Apple CEO Tim Cook himself.
It’s a short story that repeats another short (but dense, and vitally important) story that broke around six weeks ago; the reasoning behind repeating the story here will become apparent shortly.
Apple Makes Concessions to the Chinese Government
In the past couple of years, Apple had begun to find itself in a somewhat sticky situation over its relations with Chinese markets and media. Chinese officials were becoming disgruntled over Apple’s putatively unsatisfactory contribution to the Chinese economy, leading to strained relations and bad publicity.
Given the vastness of the Chinese market — motivating ethically suspect trading decisions for at least thirty years — and the political satisfactions that must be provided by a firm looking to operate happily within it, it was unsurprising that Tim Cook got personally involved in negotiating new concessions with China. After all, Cook is not just Apple’s most eminent figure. He alone among the Apple brass has on-the-ground experience of working in China (when he was establishing the company’s new-look supply chain), and the Apple board are well-aware that Cook has more clout and guile when it comes to negotiating with governments than they can expect to have in their next CEO, whenever they should happen to come along.
Cook’s negotiations and his lobbying campaign were highly successful, not least for the Chinese government. The deal the parties signed, worth a reported $275 billion, included the following terms:
- Apple would provide IP and technical training schema to Chinese manufacturers in order to help them develop “the most advanced manufacturing technologies” and to“support the training of high-quality Chinese talents,”
- Apple would use more product components from Chinese suppliers in their international supply chains
- Apple would sign service and collaboration deals with…