Apple CEO Tim Cook praised China’s stranglehold over access to the Internet in the country during a conference last weekend.
As reported by the Washington Post, “The World Internet Conference held in the eastern Chinese city of Wuzhen is meant to promote China’s vision of ‘cyber-sovereignty’ — the idea that governments all over the world should have the right to control what appears on the Internet in their countries.”
“In practice, in China, that amounts to the largest system of censorship and digital surveillance in the world, where criticism of the Communist Party is sharply curtailed and can even land you in jail,” they explained, adding that Cook didn’t mention China’s censorship and even praised the country during a keynote speech at the conference on Sunday.
During his speech, Cook declared that China’s vision “is a vision we at Apple share.”
“The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” he proclaimed. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”
According to the Washington Post, “Chinese media welcomed Cook’s endorsement, with the nationalist Global Times declaring in a headline that ‘Consensus grows at Internet conference,'” while free speech and human rights activists condemned Cook’s remarks.
“Cook’s appearance lends credibility to a state that aggressively censors the internet, throws people in jail for being critical about social ills, and is building artificial intelligence systems that monitors everyone and targets dissent,” declared Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong’s Maya Wang. “The version of cyberspace the Chinese government is building is a decidedly dystopian one, and I don’t think anyone would want to share in this ‘common future.’ Apple should have spoken out against it, not endorsed it.”
Apple has been repeatedly criticized for “bowing” to China’s communist regime.
In the same month, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed concern that Apple “may be enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance,” while in November, Apple claimed that by working with the Chinese government they could “promote greater openness.”