Apple Inc. reportedly asked its Taiwan suppliers to label their products as though they were made in China if the products are bound for China. The phrase “Made in Taiwan” often sparks disruptions in China, and Apple reportedly believes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent trip to the island could make such delays worse.
According to Nikkei Asia last week, Apple wants products heading to China from Taiwan to be labeled as made in “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China.” The Guardian reported that the Chinese Communist Party has a previously unenforced rule which requires imported products to indicate that the island is part of China. The rule is expected to be enforced now due to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
China has caused delays, imposed fines and rejected shipments of products that say “Made in Taiwan,” but Taiwan requires all exports to be labeled as such. Taiwanese officials also allow the island’s official name, Republic of China, to be used on labels.
Benjamin Ismail of the anti-Chinese censorship group Great Fire told The Register that he expects Apple to continue bowing to the Chinese communist regime.
“Unfortunately, we suspect that Apple’s ‘red-line’, the moment where it will say: ‘Stop, no longer, we cannot continue to collaborate with the Chinese regime and enforce its requests for censorship,’ is nowhere close,” Ismail said.
Apple relies heavily on both China and Taiwan to supply components for its products. In 2021, more than 25 percent of Apple’s suppliers were in China, where many of the tech giant’s products are also assembled, Business Insider reported.
Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly signed a secret five-year deal worth $275 million with the Chinese Communist Party in 2016 that included promises to help develop China’s economy, internal documents obtained by The Information revealed in December.
Applecensorship.com, an anti-censorship project by Great Fire, challenged Apple on Twitter over the reported labeling requirements favoring China.
“Is it a question of time before @Apple starts removing apps which name contains the characters “台湾/台灣” (Taiwan) without specifying “province of China” from the @AppStore?” the project tweeted.
“Remember, not long ago, @Apple censored the Taiwanese flag on its iPhones,” it added in a separate tweet.
“We asked if Apple would soon start to censor apps with names that don’t follow Beijing’s rules or because of their content,” Ismail told The Register. “Unfortunately, it was not a rhetorical question or a sarcastic joke. We know well that such censorship is something Apple is totally capable of doing, as it has demonstrated time and time again over the past decade.”
Last week, China announced a number of retaliatory measures it is taking against the United States in response to Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan, including halting talks on military-related issues.