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Is your iPhone worth China’s tyranny?

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Is your iPhone worth China’s tyranny?

To understand the troubled relationship between America and Communist China, it helps to tell the story of two Apples. 

The first story begins on a fishing boat, where a 12-year-old boy named Jimmy Lai hid as a stowaway to reach Hong Kong from Guangzhou, China, in 1951. 

Beginning as a child laborer earning $8 a month, Lai became fluent in English, founded a garment empire called Giordano, then established a publishing giant that ­includes Hong Kong’s largest independent newspaper, The Apple. A staunch defender of free speech and democracy, Lai is now in jail, facing a likely life sentence on trumped-up charges. 

The second Apple is the company that probably manufactured your smartphone. Tim Cook, the tech giant’s current CEO, was born in Alabama in 1960. After earning a master’s degree in business from Duke, he joined Apple as vice president for worldwide operations in 1998 — and quickly ­began planning to shift the company’s production operations to locations near Guangzhou, Jimmy Lai’s birthplace. 

As a result, Apple shed labor unions, US wages and strict environmental and safety regulations while winning investment subsidies from China. In the bargain, Cook ­became one of the world’s richest men, wielding enormous political influence. Yet the American Apple’s entanglement with China would soon work to the detriment of the other, pro-democracy Apple. 

In fall 2019, massive demonstrations broke out in Hong Kong in support of rule of law and against the extradition of citizens to mainland China. 

Apple newspaper owner Lai was among the demonstrators. Apple, the US tech giant, had an app in its store that helped dissidents by showing where they and the police were in real time. 

This drove the Communist bosses in Beijing crazy. They called on obedient mainland news publications to call for the app’s deletion from Apple’s store. Cook’s Apple got the message — and did just that. 

Worse, Cook’s firm said it had done so voluntarily, when everyone knew that, with all its production capacity located in China, Apple was scared of what would happen if it didn’t comply. The world learned how much of a hostage Apple Corp. really is to the Chinese Communist Party. 

Cook and his Apple loudly tout liberal values and minority rights in the West. But when it comes to China’s imprisonment of a million Uighurs in concentration camps, the repression of Tibet, the killing of Hong Kong’s free society and the stifling of international probes into the origins of the novel coronavirus, Cook’s Apple keeps curiously mum. 

The silence is damning. And it mirrors the corrupt bargain the West has struck with the Chinese Communist Party, which is open about its hostility to our values. 

In Article Nine of the resolutions of the Communist Party’s Congress in 2013, dealing with the “ideological sphere,” China’s leaders told the world exactly how they felt. They declared complete opposition to Western values, to constitutional democracy and to the Western understandings of universal human values, freedom of the press, human rights and civil society. 

They likewise declared war against the Western conception of rule of law and against any checks on the power of the party. 

In other words, the West’s China problem, encapsulated by the two Apples, won’t be solved with better trade and climate deals. Rather, the growing conflict between the Free World and the Chinese Communist Party is fundamentally ideological. 

The crux of the problem is that Beijing will do business with the Free World, and even allow capitalists to make money in its marketplace, but only if they at least tacitly accept Communist values and live by them in their dealings with China. 

Here’s the question American and Western elites must answer: How many Apple iPhones — or any other cheaply manufactured products — are worth the freedom of not just Jimmy Lai, but oppressed Hong Kongers and mainland Chinese? 

Clyde Prestowitz served as a senior trade official and economic adviser in the Obama, Clinton and Reagan administrations. He is the author of “The World Turned Upside Down: America, China and the Struggle for Global Leadership” (Yale, 2021).

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Opinion

President Joe Biden failing US when it comes to COVID leadership

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Bidenomics is already starting to slam the US economy

President Joe Biden entered the White House with a huge gift from his predecessor: COVID vaccines produced in record time and being administered to Americans at the rate of nearly a million shots a day. But rather than getting the nation over the finish line, the new president’s leadership has proved a drag on progress by feeding vaccine resistance.

In particular, the feds’ sudden, evidence-ignoring 10-day suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine did serious damage in terms of vaccine hesitancy. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll just found that 20 percent of unvaccinated adults changed their minds about getting jabbed because of the pause. Doubt was even stronger in some demographics: 39 percent of Hispanic women said the suspension changed their views.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration put the pause on J&J after learning of just six cases of serious blood clots among the 7 million Americans who’d gotten the jab.

This wasn’t science but extremely risk-averse bureaucrats ignoring the overwhelming benefits to the public for the remote fear that they might be criticized.

President Donald Trump’s critics said the approval of even a single vaccine by the end of 2020 would be a miracle, but Operation Warp Speed delivered two jabs with a third on the way — in good part because Team Trump sat on the bureaucrats to prevent such deadly foolishness.

But Biden has other priorities; he couldn’t even be bothered to try undoing the damage from the J&J pause. The day it was announced, April 13, he gave two public addresses: one at a congressional tribute to a slain Capitol Police officer and one in the Oval Office before his meeting with Congressional Black Caucus members — on a favorite subject, “equity.”

“When we took office,” he said, “I signed the executive order — every single aspect of our government, including every agency, has, as a primary focus, dealing with equity. Not a joke.”

During his campaign, Biden said his top priority would be the COVID crisis. Instead, it’s turned out to be a dangerous game of trying to institute equality of outcome.

Heck, if he really cared about equity, he’d focus on boosting confidence in and distribution of the vaccines — African Americans have been getting jabbed at far lower rates than whites.

After Biden’s remarks, a reporter asked him about the J&J pause — giving him a chance to show leadership and calm the nation’s nerves over the vax.

That’s what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson did when the European Union panicked over a similar blood-clot issue with AstraZeneca’s vaccine, urging all to heed the advice of the UK regulator, which rightly said the shot’s benefits far outweighed the risks. “The best thing of all is to vaccinate our population, get everybody out getting the jab, that’s the key thing, and that’s what I would advocate, number one,” he declared.

In grim contrast, Biden punted: “My message to the American people on the vaccine is — I told you all: I made sure we have 600 million doses of the MR — not of either Johnson & Johnson and/or AstraZeneca. So there’s enough vaccine that is basically 100 percent unquestionable for every single, solitary American.”

The nation’s top leader actually suggested one of the FDA-approved vaccines was “questionable.” No wonder confidence in all the shots has dropped.

But Biden fails on a larger scale, with behavior that says, “This crisis will last forever.”

Why? Well, a forever crisis justifies his bid to expand government permanently and lock in Democratic dominance. Sadly, that seems to matter more to this president than the health of the nation.

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Beware would-be Manhattan DAs who think job is about protecting criminals

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Beware would-be Manhattan DAs who think job is about protecting criminals

We’ve slammed Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance many times for decisions such as refusing to prosecute fare-beating and other crimes whose cost to society is far more than monetary. But most of the Democratic candidates to succeed him make Vance look like Judge Dredd.

Last week’s NY1 debate featured a clean divide: Candidates Liz Crotty, Tali Farhadian Weinstein and Diana Florence want to protect the public by putting the bad guys on ice, but the rest seem to think the DA’s job is to keep criminals walking free.

Naïve ideologues Dan Quart, Alvin Bragg, Eliza Orlins, Tahanie Aboushi and Lucy Lang want to scale back prosecutions and accelerate decarceration of jails and prisons — reserving prosecution for those they disagree with.

Bragg, an ex-federal prosecutor, bragged that he had ever only prosecuted one misdemeanor — against men who blocked people from going into a Planned Parenthood clinic. Orlins, a public defender, would decriminalize almost all misdemeanors and defund the DA’s office.

Hmm: This week, authorities charged alleged Hoolies street gang member Dashawn Austin in connection with the fatal stray-bullet shooting of 1-year-old Davell Gardner in Brooklyn last summer. Cops didn’t have to go far to find Austin, as he was already at Rikers thanks to charges on an earlier murder, in March 2020.

Look: The Legislature is already rushing to empty the jails, from its still-insane “no bail” law (which even Mayor Bill de Blasio says remains critically flawed) to its recent move to decriminalize prostitution. That madness isn’t the only reason crime is surging, but it’s clearly part of it.

With shootings soaring, the last thing the city needs is a Manhattan DA who wants to accelerate the “no consequences for crime” trend. Yet most of the candidates are trying to win votes by vowing to protect accused criminals, not the public.

Yes, they claim their approach will somehow increase public safety (someday), but that magical thinking only suggests they’ve been taking advantage of pot legalization.

New Yorkers must vote for candidates who prioritize getting crime and disorder back under control or the “city that never sleeps” will be sleeping with the fishes.

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Letters to the Editor — May 9, 2021

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Letters to the Editor — May 9, 2021

COVID uncertainty
The Post editorial about herd immunity makes several good points, albeit within the context of general uncertainty about the virus (“We’re Still Beating COVID,” May 4).

We have reason to be optimistic, but we have more work to do and still need to grasp the uncertainty of the virus.

The assumption that future mutations will be less dangerous is not scientific; mutation is random. Reducing the opportunities for the virus to mutate is good science and common sense.

Accordingly, a missing piece in your article is the damage done to public health by right-wing politicians and pundits who have discouraged vaccinations at a time when we need to work together.

The Post article blithely assumes that the many Republicans who are opposed to getting vaccinated will come around. I hope you are right, as that is what our country needs, but I worry you overestimate both the public spirit and the scientific intelligence of these people.

Chip Boyd
Cheshire, Conn.

Distrust in big biz
I agree with the broad thrust of Josh Hammer’s article about the disaffectedness of new conservatives toward big business, but I think that he slightly misunderstands the cause (“There’s No Stopping GOP-Big Biz Divorce,” PostOpinion, May 3).

Withdrawing support from big business does not necessarily mean that we are embracing government control. The pro-liberty, anti-government principles of conservatism are still consistent.

It’s just that we’ve realized that big business, at a certain scale, is indistinguishable from the government. A monopolistic corporation that uses its wealth coercively instead of engendering a free market— with the nodding approval of certain politicians who regularly lunch with the executives — is nationalized in all but name.

Robert Frazer
Lancashire, UK

Misleading mask
Miranda Devine’s column about President Biden’s meeting with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalyn hits the mark (“Masking science,” May 6).

In his indoor meeting with the elder Carters, Biden is seen not wearing a mask. As soon as he leaves and goes out into the open air, he places a mask on his face. He refuses to show the nation any optimism that the COVID epidemic is winding down.

Biden is turning out to be the most masked man since the Lone Ranger. At a recent virtual climate summit with other world leaders, and with no one else in sight, Biden continued to cover his face with his mask. I guess he was afraid he might give his computer a virus.

Warren Goldfein
Mount Arlington, NJ

Court hypocrisy
The United States is worried because El Salvador has removed the magistrates of its Supreme Court’s constitutional chamber (“Salvador worries US,” May 3).

Secretary of State Antony Blinken claims an “independent judiciary is essential to democratic governance.” Is he hallucinatory or just in heavy denial?

What does he think will happen if his party succeeds in adding justices to the US Supreme Court? El Salvador is being more upfront with its actions than the United States.

Ellen Minaker
Queens

Celebrating moms
It wouldn’t be Mother’s Day without Cindy Adams’ beautiful salute to her mother (“In memory of dear mom,” May 6).

It bring tears to my eyes every time. Happy Mother’s Day to all those hardworking moms past and present, especially my momma, Nora Quinlan.

Margaret Clabby
Queens

Want to weigh in on today’s stories? Send your thoughts (along with your full name and city of residence) to [email protected]. Letters are subject to editing for clarity, length, accuracy and style.

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