Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed ‘hope’ that the communist Chinese government will allow Apple to reinstate certain apps to the tech giant’s App Store on Wednesday.
Earlier this year, Apple removed some messaging and VPM apps — which allow users to mask their IP address and access websites censored by the authoritative Chinese government — from the App store at the request of Chinese officials.
The app ExpressVPM, or instance, received a notice from Apple in July stating that “your application will be removed from the China App Store because it contains content that is illegal in China….”
Now, Tim Cook says he hopes “some” of these apps will reappear for Apple users in China. It’s unclear which apps the Chinese government might allow, but it seems unlikely it would let Apple sell an app that allows the public to breach “The Great Chinese Firewall” — a popular term for the virtual barrier that blocks web content the Chinese Communist views as threatening to its regime.
“My hope over time is that some of the things, the couple of things that’s been pulled, come back,” Cook said at the Fortune Forum in Guangzhou, China, as reported by Reuters. “I have great hope on that and great optimism on that.”
Apple certainly has an interest in appeasing the Chinese government. After the U.S. and Europe, China is Apple’s third largest market, earning $9.8 in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2017. The tech giant surely doesn’t want a select few apps to compromise its relationship with China.
Cook’s comments come after U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D – Vermont) criticized Apple for bowing to Chinese demands to remove these apps. In a statement made to CNBC, Leahy made clear that Apple — although a private company — shouldn’t help the Chinese government in its endeavor to censor content:
“Apple is clearly a force for good in China, but I also believe it and other tech companies must continue to push back on Chinese suppression of free expression,” Leahy said.
Cook’s “hope” to bring these apps backs, however, may never be realized. Like most businesses, Apple’s primary interest is revenue. And although Cook seems like a nice enough guy, he heads a corporation, not a social activism organization.