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Apple warns its suppliers about China following Pelosi Taiwan visit

Updated Aug 7th, 2022 4:02PM EDT
pelosi taiwan visit
Image: Chien Chih-Hung/Office of The President via Getty Images

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Ripple effects are continuing to multiply after the controversial visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan just a few days ago. That visit sparked furious saber-rattling from China, for example, and even had some people fretting about WWIII. Fortunately, the worst-case fears about the Pelosi Taiwan visit didn’t come to pass. But that’s not to say her visit was completely consequence-free, either.

Following China’s hacking of Taiwan computer systems, military exercises, and Chinese jets even crossing into territorial lines, there have been other not-inconsequential downstream effects of Pelosi’s visit, too. Like a very specific warning that Apple reportedly sent out to its suppliers.

Apple’s warning following Pelosi Taiwan visit

The iPhone maker instructed its vendors in Taiwan in recent days to make sure they adhere strictly to Chinese customs regulations. That’s because the latter country, following the Pelosi Taiwan visit, has begun stringent enforcement of a rule about how packages coming from Taiwan are supposed to be labeled. The parcels must read either “Chinese Taipei” or “Taiwan, China,” in order for them to continue swiftly to their destination.

Something as innocuous — and factual, even — as “Made in Taiwan” can be used as a pretext for China’s authorities to grab those shipments. And to, of course, keep them snarled in bureaucratic red tape.

The spark that lit the fuse here, again, was the Pelosi Taiwan visit. Which, among other things, disrupted the illusion that China has long tried to maintain among the international community. Namely, that it and Taiwan are one and the same.

READ MORE: Apple: Privacy is a human right, unless you live in China

Nevertheless, when the #3 federal official in the US government flies into Taiwan — over howls of protest from China that the visit is tantamount to invading Chinese soil — it’s clear who has the upper hand in this geopolitical dynamic. Be that as it may, though, everything has a price.

What now?

Since the Pelosi visit, China has ominously used this opportunity to conduct fresh war games. China’s military fired ballistic missiles over the island, and Chinese jets and warships crossed territorial lines. The country also sanctioned Pelosi and her family. Additionally, China has broken off dialogue with the US on issues ranging from climate change to military matters.

apple ceo tim cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook looks at a display of brand new redesigned MacBook Air laptop during WWDC22 at Apple Park on June 06, 2022, in Cupertino, California. Image source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

And then, as noted above, there is the impact on Apple.

Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly brokered a deal with Chinese officials back in 2016. It was supposed to ease the country’s regulatory burdens on Apple’s business in the region. If nothing else, though, the fact that an 82-year-old US congresswoman taking a plane ride to Taiwan could cause China’s leadership to effectively lose its mind proves that Cook’s secret $275 billion deal probably wasn’t the guarantee of acquiescence that he thought it was.

During Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, among other things, she met with the company that supplies Apple’s top-line iPhones with its A-series processors. Apple, meanwhile, is reportedly concerned now about the impact of all this on its supply chain. The fall launch of the iPhone 14, of course, is also just around the corner.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.