Following on from this publication’s polarised overview of Apple, I present for your reading pleasure Foreign Policy’s take on this undoubtedly fascinating, brilliant, visionary, and rather awful corporation.
Some choice quotes:
From the beginning, Apple positioned itself as a righteous upstart, a firebrand challenge to authority, and to the presumably evil dominance of behemoths like IBM and Microsoft. Its 1997 ad campaign “Think Different,” featuring the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King Jr. among other famous iconoclasts, encapsulated the company’s concept of itself… About three years ago, however, Cupertino rolled up its sleeves and began to focus on cracking the China market… The result is that Apple’s image in China now emphasizes not rebellion, but luxury — or as Wolf puts it, “exclusivity.” Its gorgeous glass-walled stores are located next to high-end clothing boutiques like Armani, Versace, and BMW Lifestyle.
As orders for glass iPhone touch screens went up, the factory bosses began to have workers wipe screens with a new and apparently more efficient cleaning agent. But the new formula contained n-hexane, a toxin that causes nerve damage. After suffering dizzy spells and intense pain that left him unable to work, Jia [an Apple worker] was hospitalized for 10 months beginning in August 2009, and 136 other workers at the same plant were also severely injured. Jia, now resting at his parents’ home in the tiny village of Heze, he says: “I never feel the so-called ‘human rights protection’ and ‘respect’ that have always been advocated by American corporations. I only feel hypocrisy.”
In recent years, Apple’s Chinese suppliers have been involved in a string of labor and environmental infractions, from a string of suicides linked to poor or inhumane working conditions at plants managed by one of its major suppliers, Foxconn, to allegations by green groups that chemicals leaching out from its factories are polluting China’s fields.
The same company that enjoys such a sterling, virtuous image in the global press and that’s now making buckets of cash in China is precisely the one singled out by China’s fledgling civil society groups for its alleged indifference to labor rights and environmental enforcement, as well as an apparent tendency toward secrecy and obfuscation. In a nutshell, just as Apple has been consolidating its success in China, it has been acting depressingly like the Chinese Communist Party.
And it’s not just Apple! Interest on American Treasury debt does not just fund corporations that act like the Chinese Communist Party, it funds the Chinese Communist Party!