September 21, 2023


It's the Technology

As tech companies pull back from Russia, China looks on with concern


HONG KONG — Intensive initiatives by Apple and other Western tech firms to curtail their small business with Russia around its invasion of Ukraine have lifted a dilemma for solution users in China: Could the similar factor materialize there?

Considerably of Chinese consumers’ concern has been focused on Apple, which like Google, Microsoft and other tech giants moved speedily to suppress its Russia enterprise after President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. The organization has stopped item profits and exports, constrained services like Apple Shell out and removed the Russian point out information outlets RT News and Sputnik Information from the Apple Keep outside Russia.

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as perfectly as the international response, have been intently viewed in Asia, wherever there are extensive-standing tensions involving China and the self-ruling island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory. Chinese chief Xi Jinping has stated “reunification” with Taiwan is inevitable and has not dominated out the use of drive to realize it, even though the Taiwanese government states there are no indicators of imminent assault. 

Chinese officers reject any comparison involving Taiwan and Ukraine, indicating only Ukraine is an unbiased state. But some on line commenters in China, in which social media is dominated by nationalist and professional-Russian sentiment, have criticized Apple’s steps in Russia and stated China should prepare by itself for similar methods.

“If a single working day China at last decides to liberate Taiwan, who can assurance that our have iPhones won’t get deactivated?” a person person asked on Zhihu, a Chinese social media system very similar to Quora.

Specialists say it would be difficult for Apple to wander absent from China, which is a significant manufacturing heart for the organization as effectively as its 3rd-largest market just after the United States and Europe.

“It is a very distinct story than what is happening in Russia,” said Kendra Schaefer, head of tech exploration at Trivium, a policy investigation team based in Beijing.

Schaefer pointed out that Chinese polices have to have Apple and other businesses to retail store Chinese customers’ information on servers within the country.

“The question would be, does pulling out of China mean that Apple not only loses its clients, but all of its consumer information entirely?” she stated.

Apple did not answer to emailed requests for remark.

Just before the war in Ukraine, China was already pursuing a nationwide strategy of “tech independence,” emphasizing indigenous innovation and the recruitment of overseas talent. Xi has pressured its significance in latest years as equally the Trump and Biden administrations have tightened U.S. restrictions on Chinese tech giants like Huawei and ZTE that they deem threats to national security.

“The U.S. sanctions on Huawei and ZTE through the Sino-U.S. trade war by now abruptly awoke Chinese policymakers about the worth of technological self-sufficiency,” Angela Zhang, director of the Middle for Chinese Regulation at the University of Hong Kong, reported in an emailed response to concerns.

But Zhang claimed it could get many years for China to catch up with the United States and Taiwan in the producing of semiconductors and other vital elements of digital equipment.

“It is also quite pricey, if not unattainable, to achieve comprehensive self-sufficiency of many hardcore technologies, which include a quite very long and challenging provide chain,” she extra.

Russia’s increasing isolation from companies like Apple has included to calls for China’s tech independence from the West, which is also referred to as the “great decoupling.”

A single commenter on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, famous his reliance on Apple’s cloud storage service.

“Now I’m truly concerned that if anything took place, a enterprise like Apple would deactivate my cellphone and my details,” he said.

“The fantastic decoupling is unavoidable,” he extra.


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