Published December 5, 2022
The surprising news that Apple plans to move much of the assembly of its iPhones and other products out of China is important for more than just stock analysts. It is further evidence that Western companies are beginning to realize the risks of doing business in an aggressive, authoritarian state.
When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, businesses flocked to the country. Its authoritarian nature was quietly part of its appeal. Without democratic pressures or dissent, the communist government could “get things done.” Large manufacturing facilities could be constructed in a fraction of the time needed in the democratic, environmentally conscious West. Low wages and weak labor unions whetted business’ appetites.
Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, studies and provides commentary on American politics. His work focuses on how America’s political order is being upended by populist challenges, from the left and the right. He also studies populism’s impact in other democracies in the developed world.