FILE PHOTO: Visitors hold face masks at the Shanghai Disneyland theme park as it reopens following a shutdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, at Shanghai Disney Resort in Shanghai, China May 11, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
July 16, 2020
By Sarah N. Lynch and David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General William Barr took aim at Hollywood companies, including Walt Disney Co <DIS.N> on Thursday as well as large technology firms like Apple, Alphabet’s Google and Microsoft Corp over company actions with China.
“Corporations such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Apple have shown themselves all too willing to collaborate with the (Chinese Communist party),” Barr said. He added that Hollywood has routinely caved into pressure and censored their films “to appease the Chinese Communist Party.”
The companies and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. Apple declined comment.
“I suspect Walt Disney would be disheartened to see how the company he founded deals with the foreign dictatorships of our day,” Barr said in a speech at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Michigan.
Barr chided U.S. companies for being too willing to take steps to ensure access to the large Chinese market.
“The Chinese Communist Party thinks in terms of decades and centuries, while we tend to focus on the next quarterly earnings report,” Barr said. “America’s big tech companies have also allowed themselves to become pawns of Chinese influence.”
Barr’s was the latest attack on China from President Donald Trump’s administration before his November re-election bid.
In recent months, U.S.-China ties have dipped to their lowest ebb in decades, strained over issues ranging from the global coronavirus pandemic and China’s massive trade surpluses, to Beijing’s suppression of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, its military buildup in the South China Sea and treatment of minority Muslims.
Barr suggested that Apple iPhones “wouldn’t be sold (in China) if they were impervious to penetration by Chinese authorities.” He suggested American tech companies were imposing a “double standard.”
Barr noted after China imposed a new national security law on Hong Kong, Facebook, Google, Twitter In and LinkedIn, announced that they would temporarily suspend compliance with governmental requests for user data.
“If they stand together, they will provide a worthy example for other American companies in resisting the Chinese Communist Party’s corrupt and dictatorial rule.”
(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch, David Shepardson and David Brunnstrom, Editing by Franklin Paul and Nick Zieminski)