Monday, December 11, 2017 by Jayson Veley
It truly is amazing how many Americans seem so eager to surrender liberty in exchange for more government. It’s as if they don’t realize how destructive the centralization of power can be and has been all throughout history; or perhaps, worse still, they don’t even care.
This past weekend, Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the keynote address at a conference in China, where he announced that he was “proud” to be working closely with the Chinese government to create “a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”
“The theme of this conference – developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits – is a vision we at Apple share,” Cook went on to say at the conference, which was essentially designed to promote China’s vision of more censorship and suppression of speech on the Internet. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.” (Related: Apple has gone all in for communist China censorship by banning apps that help users bypass state censorship.)
But while talking about things like “having a shared vision” and “building a common future” may sound like something you’d see plastered on an inspirational bumper sticker, the things that Tim Cook mentioned in his speech have absolutely no basis in reality. Truth be told, America’s values are not the same as China’s, and quite frankly, that’s the way it should be. America values the freedom of speech and individual liberty, while China believes in government regulation and political censorship – trying to mix these two sets of principles is about as effective as mixing baking soda and vinegar. It just doesn’t work.
Back in July, the Chinese government officially banned all references to the lovable Disney character Winnie the Pooh on the social media site Sina Weibo, which is essentially China’s equivalent of Twitter. The ban also mandated that all animated gifs of Pooh be removed from the messaging app WeChat. Almost overnight, the regulatory power of the Chinese government and President Xi Jinping successfully banned a significant cultural icon from the Internet.
In case you were wondering why China would take such a bold stance against Internet references to Winnie the Pooh, the reason is simply that Xi Jinping was sick of being compared to him. Allegedly, associations between the Chinese president and Winnie the Pooh date back to the year 2013, when a picture emerged on social media of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama walking together. This picture was placed side-by-side with another picture of Winnie the Pooh walking next to Tigger, and in no time, the two images were being distributed across social media.
In the following months, several more comparisons between Chinese officials and Winnie the Pooh were made. A picture of Xi Jinping shaking hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo, for example, was compared to a picture of Winnie the Pooh shaking hands with Eeyore, and a picture of Xi Jinping riding in a limousine was compared to a picture of a plastic toy that featured Winnie the Pooh in a car.
But now that the Chinese government has banned all Winnie the Pooh references on social media, there likely won’t be any more comparisons from here on out. But imagine if a U.S. president responded to this sort of mockery in the same way that Xi Jinping did. What if President Trump announced one day that all unflattering images of him posted on social media were banned – how would the people react? (Related: Google insiders are warning that outright censorship of the Internet is Google’s top priority.)
This is exactly why Tim Cook is far too ambitious and doesn’t exactly have his feet set in reality. Working with the Chinese government to create a “common future in cyberspace” may seem like a nice idea to some, but it simply is not practical.