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These are the tech companies censoring anti-China protests

Wave of Chinese censorship hits Western companies

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After going through today’s global news, you might find yourself wondering: what the hell is going on with China? As of late, the country has absolutely dominated headlines all over the world. If you don’t live in any China-owned territory, these headlines are very likely about the recent controversies surrounding Western companies.

Following the wave of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, China has started controlling disseminated information about the incidents. Of course, the controversy of Chinese censorship has always existed throughout modern history. However, this time around, the Chinese government is tapping its resources in the corporate world.

Western companies have also started censoring pro-Hong Kong sentiments among their representatives and official channels. Naturally, the general public is largely accusing these companies of selling out to the Chinese money-making regime.

Most of the corporate clout has eked out only this week. However, the controversy has existed as early as the first major Hong Kong protest. Let’s run through this tenuous history.

Come fly the hostile skies

Naturally, the first spark of Chinese censorship started in Hong Kong’s home turf. In August, the protests came to a huge head when protestors swarmed the Hong Kong International Airport, grounding several flights for several days. In the middle of all this, Hong Kong’s own Cathay Pacific found itself in a corporate nightmare. Who should the company (and its employees) support: China or Hong Kong?

Unsurprisingly, several Cathay Pacific employees have come out in support of the protests. The higher-ups were not happy. Spurred by Chinese intervention, the company’s managers have suspended employees involved in the protests.

Because of the relative infancy of the issue, Cathay Pacific’s troubles drowned in a sea of larger protests that followed the airport protest.

Clock’s TikTok-ing

The tech world got its first taste of Chinese intervention through the popular short-video social media app, TikTok. Created by the Chinese developer ByteDance, TikTok is a lot more susceptible to government intervention. Case in point, the app has banned all anti-China content. The ban covers any mentions of Tiananmen Square and Tibet.

Strangely enough, TikTok was created for a more global audience, compared to the developer’s more Chinese-targeted Doujin app. Regardless, TikTok enforced the more stringent ruling across the entire platform. The ban was the world’s first taste of Chinese censorship. Unbeknownst to the world at the time, the situation was about to get worse.

Houston, we have a problem

This week, NBA started the larger party. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted a pro-Hong Kong image. The image came with the statement, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The obvious political opinion was shut down immediately after the tweet. NBA heads, including Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta and commissioner Adamn Silver, reiterated that individual opinions don’t represent the organization. Morey himself issued an apology soon after.

Unfortunately, the damage was done on both sides. Chinese companies have suspended cooperation with the NBA, especially with the Houston Rockets. Yao Ming’s own Chinese Basketball Association ceased its partnership with the Texan team. Tencent. Additionally, Tencent has ceased its livestreams of NBA matchups with the Rockets. Nike has also pulled its Houston Rockets merchandise from its Chinese stores.

On the Western end, the general public is calling for more integral responsibility on the part of the NBA. The NBA has always touted itself as an inclusive organization, drafting players from all over the world. The inclusivity, however, does not apply when profits are involved, according to Western protests.

Image source: Reddit

Related to this, the ESPN has also stopped reporting on any of the NBA’s political opinions. Curiously, the broadcast company has recently televised a map of China. The map includes the 9-dash demarcation line that represents the country’s claims on the disputed South China Sea.

An Apple a day doesn’t keep China away

Concurrent with NBA’s woes, Apple has also found itself in the crossfire. Recently, the Chinese government has urged the company to pull offensive apps from the App Store in the region. The order includes HKmap.live and the Quartz news app. Apparently, these apps revealed critical police movements to protestors who had the app. Soon after, Apple gave in, joining the growing number of companies succumbing to Chinese pressure.

Apple pulled the apps. The company’s head honcho issued an embattling defense for his actions. In an internal memo, he said:

“However, over the past several days we received credible information, from the Hong Kong Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau, as well as from users in Hong Kong, that the app was being used maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimise individuals and property where no police are present. This use put the app in violation of Hong Kong law.”

However, Hong Kong protestors have disputed his claims, reiterating the obvious political motivation behind the move. Like the NBA, Cook’s statement is remarkably non-confrontational, seeking to please both sides in the conversation.

Not a-MEI-zing

Videogame company Blizzard is likewise facing immense backlash for similar decisions. Earlier this week, Blizzard censored and banned a professional Hearthstone player, Blitzchung, from its tournaments. The ban also strips him of prize money that he fairly won at a recent tournament. In that tourney, he went off on a pro-Hong Kong tirade during his victory speech. “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age,” he declared. The speech was immediately cut short and removed from Blizzard’s official channels.

More than the NBA or Apple, Blizzard’s action sparked humungous global outrage. The fine went beyond simple censorship, stripping a worthy winner from rightful prizes. In defense, Blizzard invoked its right to penalize players for offending significant portions of the population.

Regardless, the public is already calling for a huge boycott against Blizzard’s products. Gamers have started unsubscribing and uninstalling popular games World of Warcraft and Overwatch. American lawmakers have asked for formal investigations against Blizzard’s actions. Pro-Hong Kong protestors have also started using a Chinese Overwatch character, Mei, as one of their protest icons. On the other hand, rivaling game companies have come out in support for Blitzchung.

The cost of luxury

Outside of the tech world, the lifestyle industry is also feeling the pressure. Apparel brands Gap and Zara have recently altered their websites. Previously, their websites included Taiwan and Hong Kong as individual countries, which China has requested to change.

People are also investigating whether Disney is censoring Winnie the Pooh in certain countries. According to a Reddit thread, Winnie the Pooh’s official site redirects to Disney’s official site in some countries. The internet has compared Winnie the Pooh’s appearance to President Xi Jinping, sparking a Chinese war against the cartoon character.

After this week, the corporate world is on notice. Who are they siding with? For some, the temptation of more profits is more important. For others, their integrity remains intact.

SEE ALSO: Trade War: China’s loss is everyone’s gain

Enterprise

Qualcomm plans to buy Arm with its rivals

It’s a consortium of companies

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For NVIDIA, Arm is its greatest the-one-that-got-away story. For months, the chip company worked on an acquisition plan for Arm. However, those plans eventually fell flat. SoftBank, Arm’s current holders, is still focused on getting a buyer for the asset. Now, a party led by Qualcomm is emerging as another potential suitor.

“A party” is, of course, an understatement, in this case. According to the Financial Times, Qualcomm is banding with other chipmakers (see also: their rivals) to each purchase a tiny bit of Arm. While a singular consortium of companies will buy the company, everyone will grab a minority stake in Arm. Of note, Samsung proposed the same deal years ago. Obviously, that old plan didn’t pan out well for either company.

Today’s renewed efforts, however, come after NVIDIA’s failure. NVIDIA reportedly backed out of its plans because acquiring Arm would have stifled competition in the market.

On the other hand, Qualcomm’s plan directly addresses this concern since everyone will own Arm. With enough companies in the consortium, it will end up with the “net effect that ARM is independent,” according to Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon.

Currently, it’s unclear whether the plan has any traction. It will require a lot of cooperation between several companies just to form a consortium. If anything, Samsung might go with the idea since the South Korean company proposed the same previously.

SEE ALSO: Nvidia planning to drop Arm acquisition plans

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Samsung is increasing the prices of its chipsets

Others have already accepted

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Shortages are still plaguing the tech industry. Because of various lockdowns throughout the past few years, new devices haven’t met the surge of demand from consumers. Besides not delivering devices, companies also deal with a loss in profit. Inevitably, that lost profit would rear its head in another way. Samsung, a major player in the chipmaking industry, has decided to up its chipset prices.

First reported by Bloomberg, Samsung is renegotiating the prices of its chipsets. If successful, the company’s clients will reportedly pay between 15 to 20 percent more to get their components. Additionally, chips made on legacy nodes will likely pay more in the end.

According to the report, some clients, currently unnamed, have already agreed to the price increase. Others are still in the process of negotiations. Though it’s certainly more expensive, the current forecast speculates that most clients will likely take the new deal. For one, other companies have already upped their prices as well. Samsung isn’t alone. However, the South Korean company has an advantage: more high-tech machines resulting in better chips and faster production.

Of course, the story doesn’t end there. While some clients have already accepted, there is no indication as to who will ultimately shoulder the brunt of the price increase. Will this mean more expensive devices in the future, or will companies graciously take a lesser margin of profit?

SEE ALSO: Samsung Galaxy S22+ review: Love at first touch

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Qualcomm unveils its plans for Wi-Fi 7

Can reach up to 33Gbps speeds

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The transition from 5G to 6G shouldn’t be the only thing we’re excited for. Companies are also working on huge improvements for Wi-Fi. Because of the ongoing popularity of 5G, not a lot of the spotlight was shone on the current Wi-Fi 6 and 6E standards. However, home internet is just as important. Now, the future wants to make things even faster. Qualcomm has announced the next chips to introduce Wi-Fi 7.

Recently, the company officially revealed the Wi-Fi 7 Networking Pro Series. The lineup will eventually don the future of routers for a variety of environments including home and enterprise use. According to Qualcomm, the chips will reach speeds of up to 33Gbps with stabler connections and lesser interference. They will support 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz channels.

For reference, Wi-Fi 6 and 6E can reach only up to 9.6Gbps speeds. Though the jump is certainly dramatic, reaching higher speeds is crucial in today’s time when 4K streaming is quickly becoming a norm.

Of course, patience is key. Amid Qualcomm’s announcement, Wi-Fi 7 isn’t exactly here yet. Both networks and router makers haven’t released any products for the standard. However, some sources, like MediaTek, are currently predicting 2023 as a target date for the new standard’s launch in some capacity.

SEE ALSO: MediaTek hosts world’s first demo of Wi-Fi 7

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