As the hit piece by far left “magazine”, The Atlantic, regarding comments Trump never actually said about the military, continues to make the rounds, it’s since been revealed that Laurene Powell Jobs, heir to Steve Jobs’s fortune, is a majority owner in The Atlantic and also a huge donor to democrat candidates, including Biden.
But that only explains part of the possible reason for the fake news article.
The widowed Jobs also retains huge amounts of stock in Apple and Disney, both of which are dependent on national policies that appease China. Trump’s tough-on-China policies are cutting into the elitist billionaries’ fortunes, Mrs. Jobs included.
While it’s unclear exactly how much of her fortune currently resides in Apple and Disney stock, which is what she initially inherited when Steve Jobs died in 2011. At one point she owned 38.5 million shares of Apple.
Earlier in the year it was revealed that the bleeding heart billionaire laid off 68 employees at the Atlantic, shortly before the Covid shutdowns took effect.
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Amazing to see someone with a net worth of more than $20 billion, who’s been in a multi-year cost-is-no-object hiring spree, turn around and tell precisely 68 people that their jobs are no longer financially justifiable
— Tom Scocca (@tomscocca) May 21, 2020
She also inherited billions of dollars in Disney stock.
So what does this have to do with China? Everything.
Much of Apple’s manufacturing relies on cheap Chinese labor. Earlier this year, Manufacturing Global published an article about Apple’s assembly lines taking a hit from the coronavirus scare:
Apple Inc.’s major suppliers in China, including iPhone-maker Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., plan to resume full-scale production in the country February 10, despite the coronavirus that has infected thousands and limited travel.
Foxconn’s Hon Hai, the most important manufacturer for the U.S. company, said Tuesday it still expects to be able to restart facilities throughout China on schedule, according to a text message sent to Bloomberg News. Suppliers such as Quanta Computer Inc., Inventec Corp. and LG Display Co. also said they would go back to work next week in China.
While Chinese officials and companies have targeted Feb. 10 as the date to resume work in much of the country, doubts about the timing have grown in recent days as the virus death toll rises, workers find themselves stuck in municipal lockdowns and the transport of people and goods has been hampered. More than 20,000 people have been infected with the virus and more than 400 have died.
Virtually all of the world’s iPhones are made in China, primarily by Hon Hai at its so-called iPhone City in Zhengzhou and by Pegatron Corp. at an assembly site near Shanghai. Each of those locations is more than 500 kilometers away from Wuhan in central China, the epicenter of the viral outbreak.
Not only that, but several articles over the years have chronicled the sweatshop-like conditions in these Chinese factories. For example, USA Today did a story last year that accompanied the announcement of the latest iPhone:
Ahead of Apple’s new iPhone unveiling set for Tuesday, a New York-based watchdog group released a report accusing the tech giant and its partner Foxconn of breaking Chinese labor laws to build its upcoming smartphones.
Apple denies most of the allegations.
The non-profit China Labor Watch (CLW) released a lengthy report Sunday alleging that the latest “iPhone 11” – the exact name of the new phone hasn’t been released – was “illegally produced in China.”
“Several investigators were employed at the Zhengzhou Foxconn factory, and one of the investigators worked there for over four years,” CLW said in the report. “Because of the long investigation period, this report reveals many details about the working and living conditions at the Foxconn factory.”
CLW says that the factory is dubbed “iPhone City” and is one of the largest iPhone factories in the world. Apple’s factory is accused of underpaying workers and forcing them to work in harsh conditions.
One of the most glaring laws broken involved temporary employees or “dispatch workers,” according to the report. Chinese laws require that only 10% of the company’s employee base be dispatch workers; however, Foxconn’s labor force was made up of about 50%.
Unlike full-time employed workers, dispatch workers do not receive paid sick leave and social insurance for medical expenses, CLW said. The report also accused Apple’s factory of paying base wages “insufficient to sustain the livelihood for a family” living in the area.
The article goes on to accuse Apple and Foxconn of exposing workers to toxic chemicals.
Apple also stands to lose bigly from Trump clamping down on Chinese owned apps that serve, in part, to spy on US citizens. Bloomberg reported last month:
Apple Inc. spent years building China into a $44 billion growth driver. Then the U.S. president last week cast all that in doubt.
IPhone loyalists across China are now reconsidering their attachment to the device after Donald Trump issued an executive order last week barring U.S. companies from doing business with WeChat, the super-app that has become integral to everyday life in the country. Scheduled to come into effect in roughly five weeks, the ban threatens to turn iPhones into expensive “electronic trash,” said Hong Kong resident Kenny Ou, who sees WeChat as one of the most essential software on his handset.
On Wednesday, Tencent executives on a post-earnings conference call stressed they believed the ban applied only to WeChat in the U.S. and shouldn’t affect its Chinese cousin, known as Weixin. But they added that they themselves were still seeking clarity, and the sweeping language of Trump’s order means it could still spell trouble for Apple.
The U.S. company has just come off a strong quarter in China, its most important international market and where it is facing intensifying competition from local Android rivals like Huawei Technologies Co. — which, unlike Apple and its locked-down app stores, are free to either offer WeChat directly or allow their users access to download it themselves. The Cupertino company’s strategy of tapping first-time buyers and wooing back consumers with cheaper devices like the iPhone SE could be entirely derailed if it can’t offer WeChat and U.S.-China trade tensions continue to worsen.
If Apple was forced to remove the service from its global app stores, iPhone annual shipments will decline 25% to 30% while other hardware, including AirPods, iPad, Apple Watch and Mac computers, may fall 15%-25%, TF International Securities analyst Kuo Ming-chi estimated in a research note. Apple didn’t immediately respond to Bloomberg News’ requests for comment.
A survey on the twitter-like Weibo service asking consumers to choose between WeChat and their iPhones has drawn more than 1.2 million responses so far, with roughly 95% of participants saying they would rather give up their devices. “The ban will force a lot of Chinese users to switch from Apple to other brands because WeChat is really important for us,” said Sky Ding, who works in fintech in Hong Kong and originally hails from Xi’an. “My family in China are all used to WeChat and all our communication is on the platform.”
Regarding WeChat, Bloomberg reported in a separate article:
When the Trump administration issued executive orders on Aug. 6 that would essentially ban the Chinese apps WeChat and TikTok over national security concerns, executives at TikTok were quick to distance themselves from any user anxiety over the social media phenomenon’s relationship with the mother country and authorities there.
WeChat was less quick to push back. That’s because Tencent Holdings Ltd., the company that owns WeChat, has for years worked to keep the app aligned with the values of China’s ruling Communist Party. The day after the ban was announced, Tencent—which has a market cap of more than $660 billion—simply said it was “reviewing the potential consequences” of the executive order; it later tried to make a distinction between the app’s Chinese and overseas versions but didn’t address U.S. security allegations.
It was the Chinese government that assailed the U.S. move—as it has done repeatedly over the past few years when the U.S. has gone after companies from the mainland—with foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin telling reporters on Aug. 7 that it was “nothing short of bullying.” He said, “The U.S. side has put selfish interests above market principle and international rules to the detriment of American users and companies.” Political manipulation and oppression “will only end up with its demoralization, eroded national image, and trust deficit.”
All the platforms are expected to toe the party line and ensure content doesn’t “cross any of Beijing’s red lines,” Ryan says. Article 28 of China’s 2017 cybersecurity law says, “Network operators shall provide technical support and assistance to public security organs and national security organs that are safeguarding national security and investigating criminal activities in accordance with the law.” In a regular press conference with foreign media on Sept. 1, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said it was the U.S. rather than China that had turned apps into surveillance systems to spy on the public.
Trump’s two orders would prohibit “any transaction” by U.S. individuals and entities with WeChat and TikTok, but the administration’s sweeping language seemed to indicate the ban might extend well beyond their use in the U.S.—leaving investors confused and trying to figure out the orders’ definition of transactions as it applied to Chinese companies. Did it include the use of the apps outside the U.S. and specifically in China where WeChat is ubiquitous and essential to business?
Zhou Fengsuo, a former student leader during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 and a naturalized American citizen living in the U.S., says his WeChat account has been temporarily suspended numerous times over the past seven years. “WeChat censorship is so obvious that people are no longer sensitive about it,” he says. “My account is dealt with in the same way as Chinese accounts, which are under surveillance all the time.” Shortly after Chinese activist Liu Xiaobo died in 2017, Zhou says he couldn’t commemorate Liu by sharing photos of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and his wife with friends on WeChat, or on the app’s semi-public feed.
Wired would go on to elaborate on Apple’s interesting position with China:
“There’s a confusion about China,” Cook said a couple of years ago at the Fortune Global Forum in Guangzhou, pushing back against the notion that Apple assembles products there to save money. Instead, he argued, China’s deep tech ecosystem makes it the only country capable of providing the right mix of expertise, suppliers and labour at the scale Apple needs.
Even so, as US-China trade tensions have intensified, Apple’s reliance on China has become as much a source of weakness as strength. In the US, it risks being attacked by Trump for its reliance on China – hence the very public nature of Cook’s factory visit with Trump.
Meanwhile, China’s government always has the option of using Apple as a bargaining chip, especially if trade talks with the US break down once again, for instance by restricting access to the crucial rare earth metals needed for smartphone production. Trade ructions have hit Apple’s Chinese sales too, as patriotic consumers turn to domestic brands, giving a bump to Huawei in particular.
Apple’s role as an employer provides a measure of political protection: it says its activities “support” more than five million Chinese jobs, more than twice as many as in the US. Yet this did not stop it running into trouble with Beijing in October 2019, when it was pressured to remove the mapping app HKmap.live from its app store, following its use by protesters in Hong Kong.
The ongoing trade tensions are now forcing Apple to consider still more drastic scenarios, in particular what would happen if greater technological “decoupling” between the US and Chinese economies forced it to shift large portions of its supply chain away from China.
Combined with Trump’s tariffs and sanctions, along with the always-contentious currency battle, Apple stands to lose bigly without a weak, China-first, anti-America president. In all-out-war mode, Apple’s biggest stock holders need to pull out every stop to make sure Trump loses so they can continue to profit.
Similarly, Disney, Mrs. Jobs’s other big stock asset set, has also been going out of their way to work with China. The Drum ran a story in 2017 titled “Walt Dynasty: Why Disney’s long-term focus is on China“:
Will China be all ears as the House of Mouse comes calling?
While Disney’s history is rooted in American culture, its focus for future growth lies outside of the United States. The company makes more TV shows outside the US than in it, operating 110 Disney channels around the world. Most of all, it thinks it can win in China.
Disney’s advance into China has been a model of diplomacy, stealth and long-term planning. Barely a year after opening its doors, Shanghai Disneyland is already China’s largest amusement park, attracting 12 million visitors.
“There were 18 years between first setting foot on the property in Pudong and cutting the ribbon with government officials of China to officially open Shanghai Disneyland,” says chairman and chief executive Bob Iger.
The most challenging aspect of the project, he says, was to build something that “would be viewed by the people of China as a great experience and enable them to have a sense of pride in it and ownership of it, meaning they felt like it was their theme park”.
However, it hasn’t always been this way. Andy Bird, chairman of Walt Disney International, says that when he joined Disney 13 years ago the strategy was to create products in the US and then sell to overseas markets: “Like many multinational companies we were in the export business and a large proportion of everything we produced was produced here. It was literally one size fits all.”
In 2016, The New York Times published a story about Disney’s convenient affair with the Chinese Communist Party:
Mr. Iger, Disney’s chief executive, took a corporate jet to Shanghai in February 2008 to meet with the city’s new Communist Party boss, Yu Zhengsheng. Over dinner at a state guesthouse, Mr. Iger offered a more conciliatory approach, setting the tone for the next phase of talks.
After that, Disney substantially dialed back its demands. In addition to handing over a large piece of the profit, the control-obsessed company would give the government a role in running the park. Disney was also prepared to drop its longstanding insistence on a television channel.
For Disney, such moves were once unthinkable. Giving up on the Disney Channel meant abandoning the company’s proven brand-building strategy. “We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re going to get everything we want,” Mr. Iger recalled saying at the time.
Mr. Iger’s trip and the new attitude in the talks that followed appeased Chinese officials. Before long, they had struck a landmark deal to build the $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort, opening China to a singularly American brand and setting the pace for multinational companies to do business in the country.
The Shanghai park, which opens on Thursday, has become mission critical for Disney as it faces business pressures in other areas like cable. It is designed to be a machine in China for the Disney brand, with a manicured Magic Kingdom-style park, “Toy Story”-themed hotel and Mickey Avenue shopping arcade. More than 330 million people live within a three-hour drive or train ride, and Disney is bent on turning them into lifelong consumers.
But Disney is sharing the keys to the Magic Kingdom with the Communist Party. While that partnership has made it easier to get things done in China, it has also given the government influence over everything from the price of admission to the types of rides at the park.
From the outset, Disney has catered to Chinese officials, who had to approve the park’s roster of rides and who were especially keen to have a large-scale park that would appeal to adults as well as children. The Shanghai resort, which will ultimately be four times as big as Disneyland, has a supersize castle, a longer parade than any of the other five Disney resorts around the world, and a vast central garden aimed at older visitors.
Even the Chinese Communist Party run news paper, China Daily, lauded Disney’s growing market in the country. Remember the CCP also banned Winny The Pooh because the the old cartoon bear looked too much like China’s most honorable chairman President Xi Jinping.
This is not unlike how the NBA has caved to China’s demands and has come out against players and executives who have stood with the pro-freedom Hong Kong protesters.
Billionaire stock holders, such as Laurene Powell Jobs, need a President Harris, err, President Biden, in order to continue their windfall from China. They can’t get that with a president that stands for America.
The irony is not lost that the party that claims to stand up for the working class, stand against multi national corporations, and stand against the oppression of workers and exploitation of labor is essentially acting as a surrogate for multi national corporations that exploit working class laborers. Scarier yet, they also own the corporate media that will tear down anyone who stands in their way.