Critical Race Theory Rejects Enlightenment Rationalism and the Declaration of Independence

(p. A15) . . ., relatively few Americans—including those who regularly denounce it—know much about what critical race theory is. It originated in law schools in the 1970s and has since become a sprawling movement. To find out more about it, I turned to “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction,” co-written by one of the movement’s founders, Richard Delgado. He writes that critical race theory “questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.”

. . .

Because the Declaration of Independence—the founding document of the American liberal order—is a product of Enlightenment rationalism, a doctrine that rejects the Enlightenment tacitly requires deconstructing the American order and rebuilding it on an entirely different foundation.

For the full commentary, see:

William A. Galston. “How Adherents See ‘Critical Race Theory’.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, July 14, 2021): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 13, 2021, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Tata’ Review: From Homestead to Hegemony.”)

The book co-authored by a founder of critical race theory that is mentioned in the passage quoted above is:

Delgador, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory: An Introduction. 3rd ed. New York: NYU Press, 2017 [1st ed., 2001; 2nd ed., 2012].

Cuban Communists Ban “Patria y Vida”

I highlighted the spirit and courage of those who sang the “Patria y Vida” song in my blog entry on February 22, 2021.

(p. A1) The protesters pouring into streets across Cuba have a common rallying cry: “Patria y Vida,” or “Fatherland and Life.” The phrase comes from a hip-hop song released a few months ago by dissident Cuban artists who set out to challenge the government—and in the process helped spark a wave of protests against the 62-year communist regime.

In the demonstrations that began Sunday, Cubans have called for an end to the regime, protesting the scarcity of food and medicine amid a surge of coronavirus cases. For Cuba’s frustrated youth in particular, “Patria y Vida” has become a danceable protest anthem and a viral sensation, with nearly six million views on YouTube.

. . .

(p. A8) The Cuban regime has banned any playing of “Patria y Vida.” The lyrics respond to Cuba’s revolutionary motto of “Patria o Muerte,” or “Fatherland or Death,” with lines like: “No more lies! My people demand freedom. No more doctrines! / Let us no longer shout ‘Fatherland or Death’ but ‘Fatherland and Life.’ ”

. . .

Messrs. Castillo, Otero and about 20 others created the San Isidro Movement to challenge the government by taking art from the galleries and music studios to the street, making performances public and organizing independent exhibits. The name came from the neighborhood where Messrs. Castillo and Otero live in Old Havana.

. . .

“It’s your fault that a whole nation is suffering,” sang Mr. Castillo in a song titled “Because of You, Sir,” and directed to Fidel Castro. The video juxtaposes images of the famed revolutionary leader next to rundown scenes of Havana, with hungry and hopeless residents looking through garbage.

Weeks after the release of “Patria y Vida,” police attempted to arrest Mr. Castillo near Mr. Otero’s home, but hundreds of angry San Isidro residents forced them to retreat. Video that was later shared widely captured him strutting on the street shirtless with a pair of handcuffs dangling from his wrist, while hundreds in the crowd sang “Patria y Vida” . . . .

For the full story, see:

Santiago Pérez and José de Córdoba. “Rap Artists Stir Cuban Protests.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, July 14, 2021): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 13, 2021, and has the title “‘Patria y Vida’: The Dissident Rappers Helping Drive Cuba’s Protests.” The online version of the article says the print version had the title “The Artists Rattling Cuba’s Regime,” but my print version had the title “Rap Artists Stir Cuban Protests.” I think I receive the Central edition, but can’t find where that is stated.)

Chinese Communists Arrest Many Uyghur Muslim Entrepreneurs

(p. A7) In the summer of 2018, Sadir Eli, a Uyghur businessman, was in high spirits. His real-estate firm was pulling in strong profits, and he told his daughter he would buy a house for her in Massachusetts.

Then, Mr. Eli was accused of being a separatist and disappeared into the black box of China’s prison system in the northwest Xinjiang region.

“He did not engage in politics,” said Maria Mohammad, who last heard from her husband in June 2018, shortly before he was detained. Instead, she believes, Mr. Eli was targeted in part because he was a rich businessman, giving him influence that the authorities viewed as a threat.

The Xinjiang government didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Eli’s fate brings to life an overlooked element of China’s suppression of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang: the arrests of elite Uyghur business owners whose wealth and commercial interests enabled them to act as a bridge between Chinese authorities and Uyghur civil society. Some scholars saw them as helping narrow the economic gap between China’s Han majority and Xinjiang’s mostly Muslim ethnic minorities—a disparity that has fueled tensions in the strategically vital but fractious northwestern region.

The predecessor of Chinese leader Xi Jinping had envisioned economic development as the “foundation to solving all problems” in Xinjiang, a view more or less held by Beijing for more than a decade. But under Mr. Xi’s drive for national unity and assimilation, Chinese authorities have changed tack, making security and social control the region’s top priorities.

. . .

Nearly one-fifth of 4,572 people tracked in a database of individuals who have disappeared into Xinjiang’s internment camps and prisons made their livings in private business, according to nonprofit Uyghur Hjelp. The research and advocacy group, which shared its data with The Wall Street Journal, compiled the information through interviews with relatives and friends.

For the full story, see:

Eva Xiao. “Crackdown Hits Uyghur Entrepreneurs.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, July 14, 2021): A7.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated July 13, 2021, and has the title “China Locks Up Uyghur Businessmen; ‘In Their Eyes, We Are All Guilty’.”)

When Athens Cancelled Socrates

(p. A15) A commitment to open expression has always defined liberalism, which gradually expanded our First Amendment protections. But now we see many liberals abandoning that principle, perhaps because they are no longer liberals in any meaningful sense of the term. How could they be, if they want tech barons to police our online reading? Facebook recently decided to stop blocking posts that suggested a “lab-leak” origin of Covid, but at the same time the company has been boasting of its efforts to downrank or “shadow-ban” accounts that share “misinformation” (in other words, they make it difficult for readers to find those accounts, without telling the account owners).

We sorely need a reminder of the follies and crimes of censorship. In “Dangerous Ideas,” Eric Berkowitz, a journalist and lawyer, offers a global history that identifies some recurring patterns in the suppression of free thinking. For starters, crackdowns almost inevitably happen when societies confront overwhelming crises. Philosophy flourished in ancient Athens, where free males (at least) enjoyed intellectual liberty, but after the Athenians suffered military defeat and a devastating pandemic, they canceled Socrates. Then Plato’s “Republic,” putting words into Socrates’ mouth, laid out a program for absolute control of speech and thought, anticipating in detail modern totalitarianism. Reading Plato, Mr. Berkowitz recognizes Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

. . .

What emerges from “Dangerous Ideas” is that ideological terms like blasphemy, subversion and hate speech are impossible to define. Thus there are never clear guidelines for censorship, which is inevitably inconsistent and often absurd. “We really do not know what is demanded of us,” protested a czarist censor jailed for making a wrong call. Facebook moderators can only be fired, but face a similar quandary.

For the full review, see:

Jonathan Rose. “BOOKSHELF; The Follies Of Censorship.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, June 08, 2021): A15.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date June 7, 2021, and has the title “BOOKSHELF; ‘Dangerous Ideas’ Review: The Follies of Censorship.”)

The book under review is:

Berkowitz, Eric. Dangerous Ideas: A Brief History of Censorship in the West, from the Ancients to Fake News. Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2021.

Communists Imprisoned Lu Yuyu for Four Years for Posting Online Data on Protests in China

(p. A1) On a summer day in 2016, a posse of men surrounded Lu Yuyu on a street in China’s southwestern city of Dali. He said they wrestled him into a black sedan and slid a shroud over his head. His girlfriend was pushed into a second car, screaming his name.

Mr. Lu had for years posted a running online tally of protests and demonstrations in China that was closely read by activists and academics around the world, as well as by government censors. That made him a target.

While China’s Communist Party has long punished people seen as threats to its rule, government authorities under Chinese leader Xi Jinping have engaged in the most relentless pursuit of dissenters since the crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, according to academics and activists.

“Over the past eight years under Xi, authorities have become hypersensitive to the publicizing of protests, social movements and mass resistance,” said Wu Qiang, a former politics lecturer at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

“Lu’s data provided a window into social trends in China,” Mr. Wu said, and that made him a threat to the party. China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based group that promotes worker rights, used Mr. Lu’s posts as the primary source for its “Strike Map,” an interactive online graphic tallying worker unrest.

Mr. Xi’s crackdown has snared women planning protests against sexual harassment, human-rights lawyers once given leeway and Marxist students advocating workers’ rights. Many have endured lengthy detentions and various forms of psychological pressure.

“Their goal is to make you feel helpless, hopeless, devoid of any support, and break you down so you begin to see activism as something foolish that doesn’t benefit anyone, and gives pain to everyone around you,” said Yaxue Cao, a Washington-based activist who runs China Change, a news and commentary website advocating for human rights. “In so many cases, they are successful.”

After Mr. Lu was snatched off the street, he spent four years in custody, his girlfriend left him, and, since his release in June [2020], he said he has been kept under close watch by police. He struggles to find steady work, he said, and suffers from depression. His landlord recently asked him to move, he said, citing pressure from authorities.

The experience keeps him far from his past documentation work. “If you’re lucky, they’d detain you within a month, or if you’re unlucky, within a week,” said Mr. Lu, 43 years old. “There’s no point.”

For the full story, see:

Chun Han Wong. “In Xi’s China, There Is Little Room Left for Dissent.” The Wall Street Journal (Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020): A1 & A10.

(Note: bracketed year added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 24, 2021, and has the title “‘Their Goal Is to Make You Feel Helpless’: In Xi’s China, Little Room for Dissent.” The online version says that the print version had the title “Xi’s China Ramps Up Drive to Squelch Dissent.” My Central Edition of the print version had the title “In Xi’s China, There Is Little Room Left for Dissent.”)

Communists Want Chinese to Forget the Millions Who Starved Due to Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”

(p. A1) Modern lore has it that Mao Zedong’s eldest son, who was killed in a United Nations airstrike during the Korean War, had given away his position by firing up a stove to make egg fried rice.

That story didn’t sit right with the Chinese Academy of History, launched two years ago by Chinese leader Xi Jinping to counter negative views of the ruling Communist Party’s past.

In November [2020], on the 70th anniversary of Mao Anying’s death, the academy served up another version. Citing what it said were declassified telegrams and eyewitness accounts, the academy said in a social-media post that Mao was killed after enemy forces detected radio transmissions from his commander’s headquarters.

“These rumormongers have tied up Mao Anying with egg fried rice, gravely dwarfing the heroic image of Mao Anying’s brave sacrifice,” said the post, which has attracted about 1.9 million views. “Their hearts are vicious.” The academy attributed the egg fried rice story to the 2003 edition of a Chinese military officer’s memoir. It didn’t mention the book was published by the Chinese military’s official press.

The history academy is run by Gao Xiang, a 57-year-old historian turned propaganda official who has mixed traditional scholarship with viral marketing techniques to repackage the past in support of Mr. Xi’s vision for a resurgent China.

Mr. Gao and his academy are part of Mr. Xi’s push to harness history in the run-up to the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary this summer. Those efforts have culminated in a national propaganda campaign to promote party history, launched in February [2021], that experts describe as China’s largest (p. A10) mass-education drive since the Mao era.

. . .

Officials commissioned concerts with orchestral renditions of patriotic songs such as “Without the Communist Party, There Would Be No New China.” Bureaucrats and students competed in quizzes testing their knowledge of party trivia. Authorities revised books to play down Mao’s despotic missteps. The education ministry added questions on party history to this year’s college-entrance exams, to “guide students to inherit red genes.”

. . .

At Mr. Xi’s behest, the history academy was set up in January 2019 under the aegis of both the party’s propaganda department and the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, or CASS, giving party theorists direct control over its output.

. . .

Last year, it launched a journal, “Historical Review,” that offers commentary on current affairs and invokes history to counter criticism of Beijing’s policies.

In July, the journal featured two articles by Chinese researchers that promoted party narratives about China’s history in denouncing Georgetown University history professor James Millward, a critic of Beijing’s forced-assimilation campaign against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang. One article accused Mr. Millward of having “sinister motives” and smearing “vocational-education training centers” in Xinjiang as “political-training centers.”

Mr. Millward said the criticism distorted his writings and echoed how Beijing often mischaracterized foreign censure of its human-rights record as challenges to Chinese sovereignty.

. . .

Outside the academy, too, party historians are rewriting the past in ways that support Mr. Xi’s views. Past editions of “A Short History of the Chinese Communist Party,” an authoritative text for general audiences, devoted hefty passages to Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” a disastrous economic program that led to one of history’s deadliest famines.

The revised version, published in February [2021], excises the earlier edition’s conclusion about the program and its fallout: “This bitter historical lesson shouldn’t be forgotten.” The new version also dropped detailed discussions of Mao’s mistakes in launching the Cultural Revolution, a series of purges against “counterrevolutionary elements” that ravaged Chinese society and left as many as millions of people dead. Instead, it focuses mainly on China’s industrial, technological and diplomatic achievements during that decade.

Also gone are well-known quotations from Deng Xiaoping, including his advice that China should “hide our light and bide our time,” or keep a low profile while accumulating strength. Another was a remark he made in 1989 as he prepared to relinquish his last official leadership post: “Building a nation’s fate on the reputation of one or two people is very unhealthy and very dangerous.”

Meanwhile, chapters were added that describe Mr. Xi as a visionary statesman whose authority as the party’s “core” leader must be upheld.

“Amid ten thousand majestic mountains, there must be a main peak,” reads the updated book, which devotes more than one-quarter of its 531 pages to Mr. Xi’s policies and achievements.

For the full story, see:

Chun Han Wong and Keith Zhai. “China Repackages History In Support of Xi’s Vision.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, June 16, 2021): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed years, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 15, 2021, and has the title “China Repackages Its History in Support of Xi’s National Vision.”)

“All Seasons Press” Will Publish Books Cancelled by Mainstream

(p. B4) Two veteran book-publishing executives have teamed up to launch a conservative publishing house called All Seasons Press LLC as ideological debates roil a book industry increasingly fueled by demand for political titles.

Louise Burke, the former president and publisher of Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books Group, and Kate Hartson, whom Hachette Book Group dismissed as editorial director of its Center Street imprint earlier this year, said conservative authors are finding it harder to get published in the post-Trump era.

“I’m increasingly concerned and somewhat outraged about what’s going on in terms of free speech and free press,” said Ms. Burke, who retired in August 2017 after a 40-year career.

. . .

The company’s launch comes as some conservatives allege that much of the nation’s news media, publishers and mainstream social-media platforms are biased against them. They are looking to set up alternatives that they say better support free speech.

For the full story, see:

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg. “Book Imprint to Serve Conservative Voices.” The Wall Street Journal (Wednesday, June 16, 2021): B4.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story was updated June 15, 2021, and has the title “New Book Publisher Caters to Conservative Voices.”)

Shi Modified Bat Coronaviruses in Low Biosafety Wuhan Labs

(p. A1) Shi Zhengli, a top Chinese virologist, is once again at the center of clashing narratives about her research on coronaviruses at a state lab in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic first emerged.

The idea that the virus may have escaped from a lab had long been widely dismissed by scientists as implausible and shunned by others for its connection with former President Donald J. Trump. But fresh scrutiny from the Biden administration and calls for greater candor from prominent scientists have brought the theory back to the fore.

. . .

(p. A8) The Wuhan Institute of Virology employs nearly 300 people and is home to one of only two Chinese labs that have been given the highest security designation, Biosafety Level 4. Dr. Shi leads the institute’s work on emerging infectious diseases, and over the years, her group has collected over 10,000 bat samples from around China.

Under China’s centralized approach to scientific research, the institute answers to the Communist Party, which wants scientists to serve national goals. “Science has no borders, but scientists have a motherland,” Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, said in a speech to scientists last year.

Dr. Shi herself, though, does not belong to the Communist Party, according to official Chinese media reports, which is unusual for state employees of her status.

. . .

. . . some of her most notable findings have since drawn the heaviest scrutiny. In recent years, Dr. Shi began experimenting on bat coronaviruses by genetically modifying them to see how they behave.

In 2017, she and her colleagues at the Wuhan lab published a paper about an experiment in which they created new hybrid bat coronaviruses by mixing and matching parts of several existing ones — including at least one that was nearly transmissible to humans — in order to study their ability to infect and replicate in human cells.

Proponents of this type of research say it helps society prepare for future outbreaks. Critics say the risks of creating dangerous new pathogens may outweigh potential benefits.

The picture has been complicated by new questions about whether American government funding that went to Dr. Shi’s work supported controversial gain-of-function research. The Wuhan institute received around $600,000 in grant money from the United States government, through an American nonprofit called EcoHealth Alliance. The National Institutes of Health said it had not approved funding for the nonprofit to conduct gain-of-function research on coronaviruses that would have made them more infectious or lethal.

Dr. Shi, in an emailed response to questions, argued that her experiments differed from gain-of-function work because she did not set out to make a virus more dangerous, but to understand how it might jump across species.

“My lab has never conducted or cooperated in conducting GOF experiments that enhance the virulence of viruses,” she said.

. . .

Concerns have centered not only on what experiments Dr. Shi conducted, but also on the conditions under which she did them.

Some of Dr. Shi’s experiments on bat viruses were done in Biosafety Level 2 labs, where security is lower than in other labs at the institute. That has raised questions about whether a dangerous pathogen could have slipped out.

Ralph Baric, a prominent University of North Carolina expert in coronaviruses who signed the open letter in Science, said that although a natural origin of the virus was likely, he supported a review of what level of biosafety precautions were taken in studying bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan institute. Dr. Baric conducted N.I.H.-approved gain-of-function research at his lab at the University of North Carolina using information on viral genetic sequences provided by Dr. Shi.

Dr. Shi said that bat viruses in China could be studied in BSL-2 labs because there was no evidence that they directly infected humans, a view supported by some other scientists.

For the full story, see:

Amy Qin and Chris Buckley. “Chinese Scientist Under Pressure As Lab-Leak Theory Flourishes.” The New York Times, First Section (Tuesday, June 15, 2021): A1 & A8.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 14, 2021, and has the title “A Top Virologist in China, at Center of a Pandemic Storm, Speaks Out.”)

David Ellison Took Flak for Hiring Cancelled Animation Innovator

(p. 1) Mr. Ellison, the son of Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle, sure looked like “dumb money.” That is the Hollywood term for a gullible, affluent outsider bitten by the movie bug, the type of investor that studios have long counted on to keep their assembly lines running, despite it almost always ending poorly (for the newcomer). The young Mr. Ellison couldn’t stop talking about his love of cinema, in particular big-budget spectacles. He had just dropped out of the University of Southern California to act in a $60 million movie called “Flyboys,” a World War I aerial combat tale.

Partly financed with Ellison money, “Flyboys” arrived to a disastrous $6 million in ticket sales. But no matter: The scion was on Hollywood’s radar.

Along with his wallet.

Soon enough Mr. Ellison had given up acting and by 2010 had become a financier and producer for Paramount Pictures, pouring $350 million of equity and debt into movies like “Star Trek Into Darkness” and “Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol.” But Hollywood snickered at his effort to be taken seriously as a creative force, as did the news media.

. . .

(p. 10) Mr. Ellison . . . enraged half of Hollywood by abruptly announcing in January 2019 that John Lasseter, co-founder of Pixar, would join Skydance as animation chief. Mr. Lasseter (“Toy Story,” “Cars”) was radioactive at the time, having resigned seven months earlier as Disney’s chief creative officer amid #MeToo complaints about unwanted workplace hugging and imperious behavior. (Mr. Lasseter had apologized for “missteps” that made some Disney-Pixar staff members feel “disrespected or uncomfortable.”)

People like Mr. Ellison typically sulk off to some luxury hideaway at this point in the script to nurse their wounds. (Lanai, the Hawaiian island owned by his father, would do nicely.) Accustomed to floating through life, they seem unable to cope with anything less, especially if it means admitting missteps.

Instead, Mr. Ellison served up a major plot twist.

He raised $275 million by selling 10 percent of Skydance to investors like RedBird Capital, a private investment firm, and CJ Entertainment, the Korean company behind the Oscar-winning “Parasite.” He lined up $1 billion in revolving credit through JPMorgan Chase. And Skydance made a sharp turn toward streaming, selling attention-getting content to whichever service wanted to pay the most.

So far, the result has been nothing short of remarkable, in part because Mr. Ellison’s timing was fortuitous. The pandemic supercharged home entertainment.

For the full story, see:

Brooks Barnes. “Not Such ‘Dumb Money’ After All.” The New York Times, SundayBusiness Section (Sunday, June 20, 2021): 1 & 10-11.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 16, 2021, and has the title “Dumb Money No More: How David Ellison Became a Hollywood High Flier.”)

Entrepreneur Pan Leaves Communist China After Xi Arrests Human Rights Defender and Friend

(p. B1) China’s economy is on a tear. Factories are humming, and foreign investment is flowing in. Even so, the wealthy and powerful people atop some of the country’s most prominent companies are heading for the exits.

The latest are Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, the husband-and-wife team that runs Soho China, a property developer known for its blobby, futuristic office buildings. In striking a deal this week to sell a controlling stake to the investment giant Blackstone for as much as $3 billion, Mr. Pan and Ms. Zhang are turning over the company as high-profile entrepreneurs come under public and official scrutiny in China like never before.

. . .

(p. B5) “For big tycoons in China, nowadays they need to be careful in general,” said Ling Chen, who studies state-business relations in China at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.

. . .

Mr. Pan was . . . one of the first Chinese business leaders to recognize the power of the internet in marketing and public relations. He wrote a popular blog in the 2000s. Then, when the Twitter-like social media platform Weibo came along, he quickly became one of its most influential voices, amassing more than 20 million followers.

. . .

He was never too pointed in expressing his opinions. But he wanted China to learn from its mistakes, such as its cruel treatment of the moneyed and educated classes during the Cultural Revolution.

After Mr. Xi took office as China’s top leader in 2013, the authorities began going after businesspeople and intellectuals with big online followings. The police that year arrested Wang Gongquan, a friend of Mr. Pan’s and supporter of human rights causes, on charges of disrupting public order.

Mr. Pan and Ms. Zhang began selling off property holdings in China and spending more time in the United States.

For the full story, see:

Raymond Zhong. “A Chinese Power Couple Cashes Out.” The New York Times (Friday, June 18, 2021): B1 & B5.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 17, 2021, and has the title “As China Scrutinizes Its Entrepreneurs, a Power Couple Cashes Out.”)

To Extort U.S. Firms, Xi Passes Laws that Firms Cannot Obey

(p. B1) Doug Guthrie spent 1994 riding a single-speed bicycle between factories in Shanghai for a dissertation on Chinese industry. Within years, he was one of America’s leading experts on China’s turn toward capitalism and was helping companies venture East.

Two decades later, in 2014, Apple hired him to help navigate perhaps its most important market. By then, he was worried about China’s new direction.

China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, was leaning on Western companies to strengthen his grip on the country. Mr. Guthrie realized that few companies were bigger targets, or more vulnerable, than Apple. It assembled nearly every Apple device in China and had made the region its No. 2 sales market.

So Mr. Guthrie began touring the company with a slide show and lecture to ring the alarm. Apple, he said, had no Plan B.

“I was going around to business leaders, and I’m like: ‘Do you guys understand who Xi Jinping is? Are you listening to what’s going on here?’” Mr. Guthrie said in an interview. “That was my big calling card.”

His warnings were prescient. China has taken a nationalist, au-(p. B3)thoritarian turn under Mr. Xi, and American companies like Apple, Nike and the National Basketball Association are facing a dilemma. While doing business in China often remains lucrative, it also increasingly requires uncomfortable compromises.

That trend raises the question of whether, instead of empowering the Chinese people, American investment in the country has empowered the Chinese Communist Party.

. . .

Mr. Guthrie’s career arc and evolving view of China tell the story of Western industry’s complicated dance with the country over the past three decades. Mr. Guthrie and many executives, politicians and academics had bet that Western investment in China would lead the country to liberalize. It is now clear that they miscalculated.

“We were wrong,” said Mr. Guthrie, who left Apple in 2019. “The wild card was Xi Jinping.”

In recent years, China shut down Marriott’s website after it listed Tibet and Taiwan as separate countries in a customer survey. It suspended sign-ups to LinkedIn after the site failed to censor enough political content. And the Communist Party urged a boycott of Western apparel companies that criticized forced-labor practices in Xinjiang, a Chinese region where the government is repressing Uyghurs, the country’s Muslim ethnic minority.

. . .

In 2014, China’s so-called dispatch labor law went into effect, limiting the share of temporary workers in a company’s work force to 10 percent. From Day 1, Apple and its suppliers were in violation.

At a Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou, China, the world’s biggest iPhone factory, temporary workers made up as much as half of the work force, according to a report by China Labor Watch, an advocacy group. After the report, Apple confirmed that the factory broke the law.

Apple executives were concerned and confused, Mr. Guthrie said. They knew the company couldn’t comply because it needed the extra workers to meet periods of intense demand, such as the holidays.

. . .

“‘This is the point. You are supposed to be out of compliance,’” he said he had told them. “‘Not so they can shut you down, but so you’ll figure out what they want you to do and figure out how to do it.’”

Mr. Guthrie, who is often tucking his long, graying hair behind his ears, began giving his lecture on Apple’s risk in China around that time. Its extreme reliance on the country left it with little leverage to resist.

Apple continued to grapple with demands from the government.

. . .

To measure the success of their lobbying, Apple executives looked to the government’s annual corporate social responsibility scores, a proxy for the Communist Party’s view of a company.

. . .

Apple’s score steadily improved. From 2016 to 2020, its ranking among all companies in China rose from No. 141 to No. 30.

Apple didn’t always successfully resist the government’s demands. Over that period, Mr. Cook had agreed to store his Chinese customers’ private data — and the digital keys to unlock that data — on computer servers owned and run by the Chinese government.

For the full story, see:

Jack Nicas. “A Warning On China Is Prescient For Apple.” The New York Times (Friday, June 18, 2021): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date June 17, 2021, and has the title “He Warned Apple About the Risks in China. Then They Became Reality.”)