“China is likely to become the world’s largest supplier of capital in the next few years.” – brookings institution, January 2017.
The fate of democratic capitalism hangs in the balance this weekend when a largely competing economic philosophy clash becomes mainstream news. Although it may be too early to be a winner, we know in the west that this trend is certainly not good for democracy. *
First, the news. Celebrate Chinese law, the company will take the key to the customer data is stored in the territory of China, China – the information to the China’s legal supervision, as Yonatan Zunger points out, the system system are obviously different with the United States, Apple has been to protect its customers in China.
Why is this important? This, of course, China for apple customer privacy is a blow, however, suppose a company – even a powerful company like apple – could force the government’s policy towards China beyond naive. No, I think it’s important because it sets a precedent for capitalism, so that profit before the principle, regardless of externalities or long-term consequences. It’s all about us.
It is now indisputable that the world’s most robust version of capitalism is the current brand of the Chinese government. Let’s call it authoritarian capitalism – because it’s a market-driven economic system controlled by authoritarian states. This brand of capitalism is based on a political framework that is fundamentally different from the democratic capitalism we celebrate in the United States. Because of many reasons, including the current U.S. retreat from globalism, authoritarian capitalism is advancing at an amazing speed, funding to AI and other technology, key resources and commodities and massive investment of geopolitical strategic region. China is by far the largest existing investor in Latin America, Pakistan and Africa, for example. Although the United States without their own infrastructure investment, China has entered the billions of dollars worth of the “new silk road” of a year, the country will promise the consolidation in the more than half of the country’s influence.
As the us withdrew from the globalist position, neither did America’s base (our economic system). Why do they do this? Growth is the most sacred goal of capitalism, and the Chinese know it.
This brings us apples.
China is apple’s most important growth market. Since it is primarily a hardware business, the company has emerged from a government review that has prevented information-driven companies such as Google or Facebook from entering the Chinese market. But apple found itself at a crossroads as its services and iCloud business became a key new driver of profitability. Will it maintain the principle of democratic capitalism, which at least balances the rights of individuals and states? A few years ago, apple took this position with the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone. Or will it succumb to the constraints of China’s authoritarian capitalism – which makes the interests of the state higher than the interests of the individual?
We got the answer last weekend. Yes, almost all global companies have to live in the dark when they do business in China. But most people think that selling washing powder, cars or sneakers is essentially a non-political act. But doing business that provides access to your customers’ most sensitive personal data in an authoritarian state? This is a line that most data-driven Google companies don’t want (or can’t) cross.
No longer. Now that apple has put its growth and profits on its former principles, these principles — representing democratic capitalism — have been severely weakened. The precedent is important, and I expect more dominoes to fall. Ten years later, every major technology company – including Google and Facebook – could play the game according to Chinese rules. If so, what would be the impact on our own social principles? I shudder to imagine.