Rubio Grills Apple For Sucking Up To China For Profits

L: (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) R: (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida questioned Apple’s business intentions in China, arguing Wednesday that the U.S.-based corporation is being very hypocritical in order to gain entry into the world’s largest human market.

During a congressional hearing titled “The Long Arm of China: Exporting Authoritarianism With Chinese Characteristics,” Rubio specifically called out Apple and its CEO Tim Cook for celebrating China’s purported vision of an open internet.

“This is where you come into this absurd situation where the World Internet Conference is held in China, meant to promote China’s vision of cyber sovereignty, which all of you have talked about,” he said to a panel of diverse experts. “Basically the idea that governments all over the world should have the right to control what appears on the internet in their countries.”

Rubio said the dystopian irony of China — a country which was just given the title of the worst abuser of internet freedom for a third year in a row — hosting the summit is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg.

“The most confusing part of it all is that Apple CEO Tim Cook stood up at that conference, and he celebrated China’s vision of an open internet. He delivered the keynote speech on the opening day of that gathering,” Rubio continued, adding that so did higher-ups at fellow American tech companies Google and Cisco.

The impassioned lawmaker said Apple is openly capitulating to U.S.’s foreign adversary, all in the name of profits. What makes it worse, Rubio says, is that Apple and its leaders often “lecture us about free speech and human rights” and problems here in America. (RELATED: These Big Name Tech Companies Shout Progressivism While Selling Out To China)

And then Apple goes “abroad and are fully cooperative on some grotesque violation of human rights because there’s a lot of money to be made, and they don’t want to offend their host country.”

Rubio highlights how after China ordered tech companies operating (or wishing to operate) in the country to shut people off from virtual private networks (VPNs). The technological capability gives users the ability to navigate the web anonymously through an encrypted, secure connection. VPNs empower Chinese citizens with the ability to circumvent the country’s firewall (also known as the Great Firewall of China), which forbids people from accessing many online services and sites.

Apple reportedly agreed to remove more than 600 apps that offer VPN services, and it also purged Skype, a popular communication service, from its app store specifically for China, according to The New York Times.

“So again, here’s an example of a company, in my view, so desperate to have access to the Chinese market place that they are willing to follow the laws of that country even if those laws run counter to what those companies’ own standards are supposed to be,” Rubio asserted. (RELATED: Power And Billions Of Dollars: Apple’s Deal With Communist China, And Why They Did It)

Somewhat ironically, Apple told a regulatory agency in India it cannot introduce an anti-spam app on its platform because the company feared it would violate people’s privacy.

Rubio has been, at least to a certain extent, a stalwart for people and organizations with concerns that U.S. tech companies are doing whatever it takes to penetrate the Chinese market. He pressed a Facebook executive in early November on the tech corporation’s decision to remove the page of an exiled Chinese expatriate now residing in N.Y., while implying the act of censorship may have been carried out due to a desire to enter the massive foreign market.

“What I want to be clear is, was there any pressure from the Chinese government to block his account?” Rubio asked Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch.

“No senator, we reviewed a report on that account and analyzed it through regular channels using our regular procedures,” Stretch responded. “The blocking was not of the account in its entirety, but I believe was a specific post that violated our policy.”

Rubio’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for further comment by time of publication.

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