Apple faces shareholder vote over Chinese app removal policies

The shareholder proposal on freedom of expression focuses on Apple’s 2017 removal of virtual private network apps from its App Store in China. (File/AFP)
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Updated 26 February 2020

Apple faces shareholder vote over Chinese app removal policies

  • The apps allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites
  • Apple shareholders have voted down human rights measures related to China in the past

Apple Inc’s shareholders on Wednesday will vote on a proposal critical of its moves to remove apps at the request of the Chinese government and calling on the iPhone maker to report whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”
The proposal is one of six that will face a vote at the company’s annual shareholder meeting at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.
The shareholder proposal on freedom of expression focuses on Apple’s 2017 removal of virtual private network apps from its App Store in China. Such apps allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.
Apple opposes the proposal, saying it already provides extensive information about when it takes down apps at the request of governments around the world and that it follows the laws in countries where it operates.
” hile we may disagree with certain decisions at times, we do not believe it would be in the best interests of our users to simply abandon markets, which would leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer privacy protections,” Apple said in its opposition.
Proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services both recommend votes in favor the measure, according to reports from them seen by Reuters.
Apple shareholders have voted down human rights measures related to China in the past. They defeated a 2018 proposal that urged Apple to create a human rights panel to oversee issues such as workplace conditions and censorship in China, with 94.4 percent of shareholders voting against it.
Shareholders will also vote on a proposal to allow shareholders to nominate more than one director to Apple’s board and whether to tie executive compensation to environmental sustainability metrics. Apple opposes both proposals.


Thailand finance minister: economy to recover next year with 4% growth

Updated 23 November 2020

Thailand finance minister: economy to recover next year with 4% growth

  • Economy had bottomed but recovery was not fast as the battered tourism sector hurt supply chains
  • Budget for the next fiscal year will still focus on boosting domestic activity

BANGKOK: Thailand’s economy is expected to grow 4 percent in 2021 after a slump this year and fiscal policy will support a tourism-reliant economy struggling from the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the finance minister said on Monday.
Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy shrank a less than expected 6.4 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier after falling 12.1 percent in the previous three months.
The economy had bottomed but recovery was not fast as the battered tourism sector, which accounts for about 12 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), has also hurt supply chains, Finance minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith said.
“Without the COVID, our economy could have expanded 3 percent this year, he said. “As we expect a 6 percent contraction this year, there is the output gap of 9 percent,” he told a business forum.
“Next year, we expect 4 percent growth, which is still not 100 percent yet,” Arkhom said, adding it could take until 2022 to return to pre-pandemic levels.
There is still fiscal policy room to help growth from this year’s fiscal budget and some from rehabilitation spending, he said.
The budget for the next fiscal year will still focus on boosting domestic activity, Arkhom said, and the current public debt of 49 percent of GDP was manageable.
Of the government’s 1 trillion baht ($33 billion) borrowing plan, 400 billion would be for economic revival, of which about 120 billion-130 billion has been approved, Arkhom said.
He wants the Bank of Thailand to take more action short term on the baht, which continued to rise on Monday, despite central bank measures announced on Friday to rein in the currency strength.
“They have done that and they have their measures... which should be introduced gradually and more intensely,” Arkhom said.