Apple changed the AirDrop file sharing function on the iPhone in mainland China as widespread protests over the communist government’s “zero COVID” strategy spread.
Quartz reported, “AirDrop, the file-sharing feature on iPhones and other Apple devices, has helped protestors in many authoritarian countries evade censorship. That’s because AirDrop relies on direct connections between phones, forming a local network of devices that don’t need the internet to communicate.”
“People can opt into receiving AirDrops from anyone else with an iPhone nearby,” the business news outlet explained.
However, on Nov. 9, Apple released a new version of its mobile operating system, iOS16.1.1, which did not list new features, but simply stated, “This update includes bug fixes and security updates and is recommended for all users.”
Hidden in that update is a change that only applies to mainland China, which limits file sharing to 10 minutes.
Further, users can no longer keep the “everyone” setting permanently on Chinese iPhones.
Apple has released a software update limiting the use of AirDrop in China in light of recent protests.
AirDrop was being used by protesters to transmit info directly phone to phone, bypassing the Great Firewall of China. pic.twitter.com/2UNtOeuTBZ
— Whole Mars Catalog (@WholeMarsBlog) November 28, 2022
Apple intends to expand the “Everyone for 10 Minutes” feature globally over the next year, according to CNN Business.
Protesters used the earlier AirDrop feature to spread leaflets and slogans between Apple devices.
Quartz reported that Apple’s market share among Chinese consumers grew to 16 percent of the market last quarter, up from from 11 percent a year ago.
“Apple has repeatedly helped China control dissent, mostly by removing apps that protestors have used to coordinate, communicate, or gather information,” according to the news outlet.
The New York Times reported protests spread throughout China over the weekend following a building fire in the country’s far west region of Xinjiang in the capital city of Urumqi, which left at least 10 dead.
Social media posts blamed the CCP’s strict lockdown polices that include welding shut doors or otherwise barricading exits from buildings to prevent people from leaving.
Families in a hi-rise in China were locked into their apartments as their building caught fire. Urumqi, in Xinjiang Province
They burned alive as they couldn’t escape and no one could get to them in time
This is directly on the CCP and Xi’s Zero-Covid lockdown strategy pic.twitter.com/AWQ4oJA7Qg
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) November 28, 2022
The Times noted that frustration among the Chinese people over the government’s COVID policies has been growing for a long time.
“[T]he pervasiveness of China’s COVID restrictions has created a focus for anger that transcends class and geography. Migrant workers struggling with food shortages and joblessness during weekslong lockdowns, university students held on campuses, urban professionals chafing at travel restrictions — the roots of their frustrations are the same,” according to the Times.
Angry protests continue in China. This in Beijing. pic.twitter.com/atxhagSyzl
— Frida Ghitis (@FridaGhitis) November 27, 2022
CNN’s Selina Wang tweeted, “This is an extraordinary, historic moment in China Protests are breaking out across the country-from Beijing, to elite colleges, to other major cities, and even far flung places. Shocking to hear people chanting for [President] Xi [Jinping] to step down.”
She reported from Beijing, “What we’re seeing is people past their breaking point. It’s years of pent up anger. This is three years of draconian lockdowns that has cost people’s their lives, their livelihoods.”
This is an extraordinary, historic moment in China
Protests are breaking out across the country-from Beijing, to elite colleges, to other major cities, and even far flung places
Shocking to hear people chanting for Xi to step down
This is people past their breaking point @cnn pic.twitter.com/6lccNGIycT
— Selina Wang (@selinawangtv) November 27, 2022
Wang added that she can’t overstate how shocking it is to hear the crowds in an upscale part of Shanghai chanting for Xi and the communist party to step down.
“What we’re seeing is this tipping point across the country,” she said. “After years of suffering and deaths during lockdowns because people struggled to get food, necessities and emergency care in lockdown.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.