Apple’s policies ensuring its comfortable presence in the Chinese market, over the years criticized on a number of occasions and from many quarters, seem to have caught up with the giant right at its own doorstep.
Local press in San Francisco report about a protest staged by Chinese activists in front of Apple headquarters in Cupertino. University of Southern California student Han Wang started his hunger strike there on Monday, joined by a number of others.
A bigger protest took place at Apple Park for December 10, United Nations Human Rights Day.
The pro-democracy activists want Apple to reverse a number of its decisions such as limiting AirDrop functionality on phones sold in China, censorship on the company’s Chinese App Store, as well as stop what they say is exploitation of workers at the Foxconn iPhone factory.
Another demand is for the US tech powerhouse to take a public stance on the plight of the Uyghur population in the mainland, which the protesters describe as persecution and mass incarceration.
The controversy around the AirDrop file sharing service arose around Apple’s decision to swiftly update the app in China to disable the functionality after ten minutes, except among iPhone contacts.
This came amid protests in China against President Xi and the rule of the Communist Party, images of which were being shared and spread using AirDrop.
Apple is yet to react to the hunger strike outside its HQ, but some of those who support it, like Vivian She, who immigrated to the US from China in the 90s and has corresponded with Wang via Telegram, say that the strict Covid lockdowns and their grueling consequences on people was what first inspired them to consider the nature of Beijing’s policies.
Reports say that various forms of protests, such as vigils, spurred by the ones in China referred to as “blank paper” or “A4 revolution,” have been happening elsewhere in the US and in other countries, coordinated by universities including Stanford and Columbia.
Many of those participating, even though outside of China, still prefer to remain anonymous and use encrypted apps to communicate.