14 october, 2019
How to deal with Western internet giant abuse: China’s experience
Author: Alexander Malkevich, no comments
Today I would like to dwell on my favorite subject: the abusive policies of Western internet giants and how they push them, and not just with our country.
They often have friction with China, too; only the outcome is different.
Due to various stereotypes, we often underestimate that country’s potential. Meanwhile, dozens of the world’s largest companies have been made to apologize to China and change their products in accordance with the requirements of the local authorities.
Let’s look at some examples.
Hong Kong has been rocked by anti-government protests since June over a controversial Extradition Bill. So many IT giants thought they could use the riots and general uncertainty to make money.
On October 4, Apple approved the HKmap app that mapped new clashes helping protesters avoid the police. The next day, it became available on the App Store and immediately topped the Travel category in Hong Kong by popularity. The official publication of the Chinese Communist Party, Renmin Ribao (or People's Daily) slammed Apple for the “toxic” app and the song “Glory to Hong Kong,” the unofficial anthem sung by protesters, offered in Apple Music.
So Apple eventually removed the app explaining that HKmap.live posed a threat to law enforcement services and Hong Kong’s residents. An inspection by the Hong Kong Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) revealed that the app “was used to ambush police and by criminals who used it to victimize residents in areas with no law enforcement,” the company said in a statement.
On the same day, Google removed The Revolution of Our Times game from its Google Play store, where players could choose to be protesters in Hong Kong. Wall Street Journal correspondents said they had documents confirming that the company had removed the app at the request of the Hong Kong police. A Google spokesperson, in turn, said the corporation had adopted a policy to disallow its developers from making money on major conflicts or tragedies by creating games based on these events.
A scandal erupted over a tweet by Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, who supported the protesters in Hong Kong by tweeting “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” Morey deleted the initial post after a backlash from Chinese fans and organizations. Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta explained that the tweet reflected the manager’s personal position, and in no way represented the Rockets or the NBA. The guilty party also apologized, but his conciliatory words convinced neither Chinese fans nor basketball officials.
Chinese sponsors and the Chinese Basketball Association immediately announced the termination of any arrangements with the club. Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, Li-Ning sports shoe brand, Jiayin Group suspended contracts with the Houston Rockets, and telecom giant Tencent said it would suspend live streaming of Houston Rockets games, as well as news about the team this season. Nike removed the club’s logos from the Chinese version of its online store. The Chinese Basketball Association also canceled exhibition games between the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks planned for October in China.
The Chinese media corporation called Morey’s statement a challenge to national sovereignty and social stability, and major state television channel CCTV, which is part of it, intends to suspend the screening of all pre-season games of NBA teams. Tencent Holdings, the NBA's exclusive digital partner in China, has already suspended broadcasts – its audience is close to 490 million viewers. Obviously, this action will lead to incredible losses in advertising revenue.
A similar situation occurred with professional cyber player Blitzchung, winner of the Hearthstone tournament, who made a statement in support of the protests in Hong Kong in a post-game interview. He was immediately suspended from esports for a year and stripped of his earnings. Even the commentators who interviewed him were fired. The incident evolved into a major scandal for the company – players began to release statements on rejecting the company's products and cancelling pre-orders of games.
Earlier this year, in August, France’s Givenchy apologized to Weibo in China for a batch of T-shirts that said Hong Kong and Taiwan were independent states.
A few days before that, the Italian fashion house Versace had to apologize for T-shirts that also listed Hong Kong and Macau as independent territories. As the scandal unfolded, Versace brand ambassador in China, Chinese actress Yang Mi, terminated the partnership with the brand. She said Versace’s clothing is damaging the sovereignty of her country, which is “sacred and inviolable.”
At the end of June, similar problems arose with the shoe manufacturer Nike: the company had to suspend the sale of some of its sneaker models in China. Japanese fashion designer Jun Takahashi, a local partner with the company, caused a wave of outrage when he supported the protests in Hong Kong on his Instagram page. Nike not only apologized, but also pulled the sneakers off shelves in China that Takahashi helped design.
Last year, the car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz apologized twice to buyers in China for quoting the Dalai Lama’s posts on social media, someone the Chinese authorities consider a separatist.
So I would like to ask my traditional question: China was able to gain respect from a variety of world brands, forcing them to give in several times; what do they have to do to us in Russia to open our eyes? So that we begin to respond to the insulting and unacceptable statements about our country from the West, and finally make them behave – if not by law, then perhaps through ruble/dollar/euro incentives?
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