DANIEL VAUGHAN: ‘Woke’ capitalism supports communists over Hong Kong protestors

August 16, 2019

The explosion of protests in Hong Kong provides yet another example of a people yearning for freedom.

They protest against the tyrants in the communist Chinese government, which is bent on maintaining power over a people they increasingly fear. And while they may fear their own people, the Chinese tyrants can count on support from one group: American companies.

You may recall a few months back when the topic of abortion dominated the national landscape, with various states passing extreme laws either encouraging or barring abortion.

Some of the biggest focuses of that fight were the controversial heartbeat bills, alongside a never-ending parade of Hollywood groups and tech companies who claimed they wouldn’t do business in any state that passed such tyrannical pro-life laws. There was a similar outbreak when some states passed laws protecting religious freedom.

But despite all that outcry, all of those companies happily go along with doing business in China, bending over backward to accommodate all the demands of the communist Chinese government.

It’s hard to take these “woke” capitalist companies and their “moral outrage” cycles seriously when the most powerful tyrannical regime on Earth right now enjoys their full support.

In the trailer for Tom Cruise’s upcoming sequel, Top Gun: Maverick, fans noticed a change in Cruise’s iconic character: his flight jacket had Japanese and Taiwanese flags removed from it to appease the Chinese government.

The newest Top Gun movie is partially funded and produced by the Chinese company Tencent Pictures, which is a part of the internet giant in China, Tencent.

But as The Hollywood Reporter notes, Hollywood has gone well beyond patches on flight jackets:

For the better part of a decade, U.S. studios have been careful to portray China in an unfailingly positive, or neutral, light. Film projects casting a critical eye on the China of the past or present — Seven Years in Tibet, for example, or Richard Gere’s Red Corner, which criticized China’s legal system — haven’t gotten made since the 1990s.

Instead, China has tended to be portrayed — if at all — as a thoroughly stabilizing and technologically advanced partner, as in the finale of Ridley Scott’s The Martian or Roland Emmerich’s 2012.

And it’s not just Hollywood. Hundreds of Google employees were shocked to find out they had helped design a secret, censored search engine for China last year.

Project Dragonfly, as it was known, came almost eight years after Google pulled out of China after similar issues with censorship. Charles Mok, a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council, told The New York Times that Google would “lend legitimacy to government censorship if it debuted a censored search product in China,” because “then the Chinese government can say, ‘Google is OK with it, too,'”

Moreover, Apple employs nearly 350,000 people in one Chinese city, nicknamed “iPhone City,” since half the world’s iPhones are made there. One journalist made it into those factories a few years back to tell the story of conditions there, and how in 2010, people began taken their own lives over the toxic work environment.

That’s the thing with too many of the “woke” capitalist companies in the West — they enjoy claiming progressive cultural issues in America, but when it comes to dealing with actual authoritarian regimes, they take the money and do what those tyrants want them to do. The lure of the Chinese economy, with so many available consumers, causes them to throw away their morals for the bottom line.

Outrage cycles supported by corporations on things like abortion legislation and religious freedom laws aren’t real stands of morality — they’re fake. It’s all a marketing ploy meant to pitch companies as stalwart champions of progressives ideas in the suburbs while actually accomplishing nothing.

When it’s time to deal with China, they immediately back down. They take China’s money while ignoring the people.

Noah Rothman put it best, noting in a piece for Commentary magazine that these protests are a sign that the free people are fighting against a real tyranny:

The very existence of the Hong Kong demonstrations is an assault on the conventional wisdom that Western-style liberalism is exhausted and uncompelling. It’s proof that people cannot be pacified by consumer goods and intimidated by a panoptical surveillance state. It’s a confirmation that the people are the ultimate arbiters of who governs them and how; not the other way around.

If you want authentic people standing up for their actual beliefs, look to the protestors of Hong Kong. They stand against a violent police state that has no qualms against slaughtering its own people. If blood gets shed over Hong Kong, it’s because China wants those people dead.

You won’t find that same level of courage in America’s boardrooms. They’d rather pontificate in marketing campaigns to appeal to progressive causes while making as much money as they can from an enemy to freedom.

On some level, it’s wrong to demand such stands from corporations with distinct business goals in mind. But I’m not the one making them take these contradictory stances. Their woke marketing departments are doing that.

If you’re going to call a state like Georgia bad for business, then why are you in bed with the communists trying to destroy protestors in Hong Kong?

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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.