Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said it is a “serious issue” that some American tech companies have chosen to please the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in order to do business in China.
“I think it is really important that we recognize just how compromised these companies are, when they deal with foreign governments and try to enter foreign marketplaces,” Buck said during a recent interview with NTD.
The lawmaker singled out Apple as an example, in particular over its decision to pull crowd-sourced app HKmap.live from its App Store in China.
The map app was popular among Hong Kong protesters to avoid direct confrontation with the Hong Kong Police during the anti-CCP, pro-democracy protest movement of 2019 and 2020. At that time, the city’s police officers were heavily criticized for their violent handling of protesters and journalists.
“When [Apple] did that, the protesters were at risk,” Buck said. “They were at risk for a totalitarian regime to crack down on free speech [and] on protesting something that in this country would consider vital to our democracy.”
Hong Kong’s protest movement is now largely over, first due to the spread of the CCP virus, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, and then Beijing’s implementation of a draconian national security law in the summer of 2020. The law punishes vaguely-defined crimes such as subversion with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
Hong Kong Police arrested at least 10,265 individuals in connection to the protests as of July 31, 2021, according to data released by the Hong Kong government. Among them, 2,684 had been prosecuted at that time.
Aside from pulling the map app, Apple has also made other controversial decisions related to China in recent years, including moving some of its iCloud data to China-based servers and Apple’s CEO Tim Cook being named to become the chairman of an advisory board for China’s Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.
U.S. tech company Cisco Systems assisted Beijing to build its Internet censorship apparatus known as the Great Firewall.
Google also came under scrutiny for not renewing a Pentagon contract in 2018, but decided to cooperate with Tsinghua University over an artificial intelligence research body.
Former Attorney General William Barr voiced similar criticism against U.S. tech companies and Hollywood in July 2020, when he said they have allowed themselves “to become pawns of Chinese influence.”
“For the sake of short-term profits, American companies have succumbed to [Chinese] influence, even at the expense of freedom and openness in the United States,” Barr added.
Barr made the comment during a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum Grand Rapids in Michigan.
Currently, Buck serves as the top Republican on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law. He also serves on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation.
Buck also co-chairs a Republican-led Freedom from Big Tech Caucus.