Apple CEO Tim Cook said Tuesday that the company has a “responsibility” to do business in as many places as it can.
That includes China, where human rights advocates have said the Party persecutes thousands in the Uyghur Muslim minority.
“World peace through world trade,” Cook said, adding that operating in foreign countries means Apple has to “acknowledge that there are different laws in other markets.”
His comments came at The New York Times’ virtual DealBook conference when host Andrew Sorkin asked Cook about the controversy that Apple fields over its involvement in the country. Cook responded with the quote from Tom Watson, who served as president of IBM in the 1930s.
China is a lucrative market for Apple and has played a pivotal role in setting the phone giant up for success. The company relies on suppliers in the nation for assembling its many popular gadgets.
But a May report from The Information found that seven Apple suppliers in China had links to forced labor programs, including the use of Uyghur Muslims from the Xinjiang region.
And a March 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute also found connections between Apple suppliers and forced Uyghur labor.
Human Rights Watch estimates 1 million Uyghur Muslims are being persecuted in China. The country has detained them in internment camps, forcing them to abandon their culture for Chinese customs, like learning the Mandarin language.
China has pushed back on the characterization of the camps, claiming they are for “reeducation” purposes and calling Uyghur Muslims terrorists and religious extremists, as Insider’s Alexandra Ma reported.
International human rights advocates and countries around the world have condemned China’s actions. Human Rights Watch said in April that China is committing “crimes against humanity” through its prison centers for Uyghurs.
Apple isn’t the only one bowing to China’s needs. LinkedIn censored the profiles of journalists on its Chinese site in September that contained “prohibited content” considered offensive to the Party. Some of the content in question could have been journalists listing their reporting on Uyghur persecution or on China’s maltreatment of rural Tibetans.
But LinkedIn said in mid-October that it was shutting down its Chinese site after the backlash.News Source: Business Insider