Apple has reportedly told suppliers based in the Republic of Taiwan to comply with Chinese customs regulations, citing fears of trade barriers allegedly stoked by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taipei. According to Nikkei Asia, the company’s sense of urgency is heightened by the timing of the fall release of its iPhone 14 lineup, which will likely be delayed owing to tensions between Taiwan and China.
Per Apple's warning, labels on Taiwanese-made parts and components must conform to the language of the Chinese communist Party’s (CCP) “One China” policy, which asserts that the island nation belongs to Beijing. Accordingly, labels must read “Taiwan, China” or “Chinese Taipei.” Labels that read “Made in Taiwan” or “Republic of China” are forbidden.
This is at odds with requests made by the Taiwanese government that expects exports to be labeled with the island nation's official name.
Shipments that do not comply with Beijing’s conventions may be held, seized, rejected, or met with fines up to 4,000 yuan ($592). Apple recommended that suppliers take fast action to circumvent such disruptions and penalties.
One shipment of components from Taiwan to China was stopped on August 4 and held for review to ensure that the import declaration forms and containers were labeled to the CCP’s satisfaction.
On Saturday, the Chinese state media outlet Global Times amplified talking points issued earlier by the CCP's Ministry of Commerce, claiming that Pelosi's visit to the island nation has "pushed the Taiwan question to the brink of a showdown" and that "the labeling rule is actually a message to businesspeople in Taiwan that they have to make a choice."
Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR, poked fun at Apple's warning to Taiwanese suppliers.
This is not the first time that Apple has policed language on behalf of the CCP.
A 2021 report produced by Citizen Lab indicated that Apple "censors political content including broad references to Chinese leadership and China's political system, names of dissidents and independent news organizations, and general terms relating to religions, democracy, and human rights." Additionally, researchers found that Apple's censorship in Hong Kong exceeded its legal obligations and that it had no legal justification for its political censorship in Taiwan.
Project director for AppleCensorship.com Benjamin Ismail told the Register that "Apple has shown it is willing to go very far to secure the Chinese market, including violating sanctions by doing business with entities targeted by US sanctions."