Tucker Carlson slammed Apple on his 11-29-22 nightly broadcast for restricting the use of the Airdrop feature on its iPhone — in China only. With widespread protests over China’s “zero-covid” policy that indirectly led to the deaths of 10 people in an apartment fire, Tucker views the limitation of a communications app as a clear sign that Apple is an instrument of the Chinese Communist Party.
After rightfully blasting US mainstream media for failing to report on tanks being rolled into action to intimidate protestors, Tucker said:
We can say, we know for a fact, that Apple is covering for the government of China. . . . [In spite of it being located in the US and run by an American], Apple is in no sense American. Apple’s loyalty is to the government of China.
If you think that’s an overstatement consider this: Earlier this month [November, 2022] Apple did the bidding of the Chinese government to crush domestic protests against the Communist Party there. Apple did this by disabling it’s permanent Airdrop feature in China — and so far only in China, the only country in which it’s disabled.
So why did Apple disable that feature in China?
Well, because that feature — permanent AirDrop — allows iPhone users to communicate directly with one another — without using the internet or cellular networks, both of which in a totalitarian state like China are controlled by the government.
And that means without permanent Airdrop it’s effectively impossible for freedom-minded citizens to organize with one another — they’re powerless. Apple, of course, knows this, and that’s why when iPhone users in China began using permanent AirDrop to complain about the Communist Party Apple just shut it down.
Apple didn’t shut it down.
Let’s look at some details. Here is what the AirDrop control page looks like on an iPhone in the US — presumably the same as it would look anywhere else, including China.
“Contacts” are people who are included in their Phone app and is the default setting. If they want to transmit or receive information using AirDrop with people not in their contacts, such as in a mass protest, they can change the setting to “Everyone.”
Even today protestors in China can do it. But according to reports they can only do it 10 minutes at a time. After 10 minutes they have to reset it from Receiving Off to one of the other options.
Yes, it’s a hassle, but it works.
Apple is a big company that tries to market its products around the world. It is subject to market forces of competition as well as state forces of coercion. Monopoly power lies with the state, not the company, no matter how big it is.
Every state, including the US, has “pay to play” rules. If Apple wants to sell iPhones in China, it has to satisfy state bureaucrats as well as customers. This is one of many prices we pay in a world run by states.
He criticized the Communist Party, in the foolish belief that being the richest man in Red China protected him. It did not. Chairman Xi had him seized and sent off some place to be re-educated. He had money, not freedom. Now he is gone. Criticized by the pope, Stalin asked how many divisions does the pope have? Xi knew Ma also had no divisions. As George R.R. Martin wrote, power is power.
Neither does Apple have any divisions. Apple could’ve removed its AirDrop feature altogether for China. Maybe Xi will order it removed. But for now it’s at least available in hobbled form.