Tim CookSource: Apple

What you need to know

  • Apple has drawn criticism over its decision to skip a congressional hearing discussing the tech industry and links with China.
  • Both Apple and TikTok were notably absent from proceedings.
  • In its absence, Apple drew strong criticism over its business model and practices in China.

Apple has drawn criticism over its absence at a congressional hearing discussing the tech industry and links to China, according to a report from the Washington Post.

The report states:

Apple and TikTok took a lashing Tuesday for skipping a congressional hearing meant to explore the tech industry and its ties to China, an absence that threatens to bring sustained political scrutiny of the companies' controversial relationships with Beijing.

Two empty chairs at a witness table served to illustrate the companies' absence from the hearing, convened by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a tech-industry critic who opened the session by blasting Apple and TikTok over "the danger of Chinese tech platforms' entry into the U.S. market and the danger of American tech companies' operations in China."

It seems that TikTok took more punishment from Senator Hawley in comparison to Apple. Hawley cited news reports from former TikTok employees who felt under pressure from officials in their Chinese headquarters to downplay videos thought to be politically or culturally controversial.

On Apple, Hawley claimed that Apple's ties in China risked "compromise with authoritarianism." He cited government rules in China that require Apple to store the iCloud data of Chinese citizens locally and claimed that this could undermine security. According to the report:

"We're accustomed in hearings like this one to hearing about Apple as a good corporate citizen," the senator said, citing the company's privacy practices. "But Apple's business model and business practices are increasingly entangled with China, a fact they would rather we think not too much about."

Apple has endured a tumultuous month-or-so of press in China and also Hong Kong, notably in relation to the HKmap.live app, which found Apple pulled between the outcries of global press and the strong denunciation of Chinese state media over its decision to reject, then publish, then remove the controversial app from its App Store.