Apple silent on China protests at iPhone manufacturer but issued lengthy statement on George Floyd’s death


Workers protest at Foxconn iPhone plant in China

Hundreds of workers joined protests at Foxconn’s iPhone factory in China (Video: AP.)

FIRST ON FOX: Technology giant Apple has been silent regarding the protests in China, including the demonstrations at an iPhone manufacturer’s factory, but issued a lengthy statement on George Floyd’s death.

China has been rocked with protests lately over the communist nation’s "zero-COVID" policy, seeing unrest in several major cities as well as calls for Chinese President Xi Jinping to step down.

While protests in China are rare, they are alive and well in America, thanks to First Amendment protections, and Apple has been vocal in the past few years about some of the more raucous demonstrations in the U.S.


Apple CEO Tim Cook published a lengthy statement on George Floyd’s death, but the tech giant has been silent on the protests taking place in China, including iPhone factories where workers are being beaten. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

In 2020, Apple CEO Tim Cook published an essay titled "Speaking up on racism" after Floyd’s murder by disgraced former police officer Derek Chauvin earlier that year.

"Right now, there is a pain deeply etched in the soul of our nation and in the hearts of millions," Cook wrote in June 2020.

"To stand together, we must stand up for one another, and recognize the fear, hurt, and outrage rightly provoked by the senseless killing of George Floyd and a much longer history of racism," he continued.

"That painful past is still present today — not only in the form of violence, but in the everyday experience of deeply rooted discrimination," the CEO wrote. "We see it in our criminal justice system, in the disproportionate toll of disease on Black and Brown communities, in the inequalities in neighborhood services and the educations our children receive."

However, as vocal as the company was in the wake of Floyd’s murder, Apple has been silent on the anti-government protests in China — even as the workers manufacturing their own iPhones are beaten.

Policemen pin down and arrest a protester during a protest on a street in Shanghai Nov. 27, 2022. Authorities eased anti-virus rules in scattered areas but affirmed China’s severe “zero-COVID” strategy Monday after crowds demanded President Xi Jinpin (Associated Press / AP Images)

In fact, Apple has actually aided the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) crackdown on dissent by placing restrictions on their AirDrop feature in China — which protesters have been using to share information to dodge censors while sending information to nearby citizens.

Under the latest software update, iOS 16.1.1, iPhone owners in China can only use AirDrop to receive files, images and videos from other non-contacts for 10 minutes, according to 9to5Mac. Once that 10-minute window lapses, AirDrop shifts back to contacts only automatically.

FOX Business reached out to Apple asking about the company’s silence on the Chinese protests and if they support the protesters, but received no response.

Apple’s silence may stem from the company’s business dealings with China, where the CCP creates a balancing act for foreign firms to perform in order to continue their deals in the country.

Apple has a history of doing business in China and has seen explosive growth in business in the nation, recently clearing a 57% increase in sales in the greater China region earlier this year.

The company has been surrounded by controversy lately after Apple removed the Swedish-based retailer H&M from Apple Maps in China. H&M recently announced they would not be buying cotton from the Xinjiang region due to allegations of forced labor in the region.

The protests could also affect Apple’s bottom line, as the protests in their Zhengzhou, China, factory, where protesting workers are being beaten, are expected to result in production being short nearly 6 million iPhone Pro devices.

Protesters face off against security personnel in white protective clothing Nov. 23, 2022 at the factory compound operated by Foxconn Technology Group, which runs the world’s biggest Apple iPhone factory in Zhengzhou in central China’s Henan province (Associated Press / AP Images)

The expectation of lost production at the Chinese plant could change, a person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. However, the situation will depend on the speed at which Foxconn Technology Group, the Taiwanese company that operates the facility, is able to bring people back to assembly lines following China's strict coronavirus restrictions. Production could be set back even further if lockdowns continue.

The Zhengzhou hub has been impacted by lockdowns and worker unrest for weeks after COVID infections left Foxconn and the local government struggling to control the virus outbreak. Thousands of employees fled last month amid chronic food shortages. New employees were then hired and protested against pay and quarantine.


Apple has also faced controversy for claiming Georgia’s new election laws were "based on a lie" and "unacceptable" while staying silent on China’s genocide of Uyghur Muslims in the country’s Xinjiang region.

Georgia saw record voter turnout in the 2022 midterm elections earlier this month.

FOX Business’ Paul Best and Landon Mion contributed reporting.

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