The willingness of corporate America to bend the knee to China has been in the spotlight, thanks mostly to the NBA’s recent uncomfortable willingness — eagerness, even — to bow to the Chinese censors in order to maintain access to China’s 1.4 billion eyeballs.
The casual flippancy with which the NBA turned, shrugged, and genuflected to China was shocking to more than a few Americans, many of whom expected the most American of corporations to muster at least an attempt at sympathy for the struggle of Hong Kong to maintain its democratic independence from the mainland government.
But in fairness, it shouldn’t have come as such a shock. The NBA has had a lot of role models for how to suck up to China — particularly from the world of Big Tech.
And on Tuesday, some in Congress were intent on taking notice.
In the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri convened a hearing to examine just how deeply American tech companies have prostrated themselves to Beijing. The answers were more than a little unsettling.
Hawley opened the hearing with a statement chastising the two companies that had been summoned to the hearing, but failed to appear: Apple and a wildly popular Chinese-owned social media app, TikTok.
Both corporations have troubling relationships with our data and the Chinese government. Consider TikTok, which Hawley characterized in blunt terms. “A company compromised by the Chinese communist party knows where your children are, knows what they look like, what their voices sound like, what they’re watching, and what they share with each other.”