Daily Management Review

The CEOs Of Apple And Disney Meet With US Lawmakers To Discuss Rivalry With China


High-profile IT and media leaders spoke with senators visiting California this week about their experiences working in and competing with China.
A group from the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party traveled to the west to meet with business executives and subject matter experts about the main issues that should be of concern when dealing with China. The delegation consisted of roughly ten members.
Over the course of the three-day tour, which began on Wednesday, lawmakers were expected to meet with high-level officials from Google, Microsoft, Palantir, and Scale AI as well as Disney CEO Bob Iger and Apple CEO Tim Cook. According to a source close to the committee, meetings with venture capitalists and Stanford University academics, as well as with a group of producers, screenwriters, and former studio executives with expertise working with China, were also on the schedule.
The trip serves as a reminder of how important the media and technology sectors are to America's complicated relationship with China.
While these sectors frequently rely on the enormous audiences and workforces present in China, reliance on the nation raises concerns about human rights and free expression issues due to the government's censorship regulations as well as supply chain hazards.
Following a historic meeting between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., on Wednesday in California, the journey is scheduled. The Chinese Communist Party leadership was incensed by that encounter, which was also praised by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat from California. The Chinese administration referred to the gathering as a "provocation" and pledged to take "resolute actions."
The select committee's delegation of legislators spent time in Hollywood learning about a variety of subjects pertaining to rivalry with China. According to the individual acquainted with the committee's operations, censoring of creative content was a major topic in a meeting with Disney's Iger and subsequently at a dinner with other studio executives. Executives talked about how to deal with self-censorship to attempt to avoid offending the Chinese government even before filming starts and how to deal with edit requests they receive from the government in order to broadcast movies in the nation.
The source claims that Microsoft President Brad Smith gave a lecture on artificial intelligence on Thursday in Silicon Valley, warning that there is a little gap between the United States and China in the development of generative AI, which has been made popular by tools like ChatGPT. He also covered the mining and processing of rare earth minerals, which are important parts of some modern technology. At a luncheon with committee members, Smith and officials from Google, Palantir, and ScaleAI were present.
According to Steve Blank, a founding member of the institute, lawmakers also had meetings with Stanford University specialists, including those from the Gordian Knot institute for National Security Innovation. After the talk on Thursday, Blank said he discussed the need for a defense plan that includes more public-private collaborations across many industries to help the United States catch up to China in a phone call. The bipartisanship and curiosity of the MPs in attendance, according to Blank, pleased him.
“In general, the questions they asked, you would have been very proud to be an American sitting in that room,” Blank said. “They were bipartisan, and they were to the point and they were very smart. These people understand the issues, and they’re trying to help the country be better.”
In a phone interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., a committee member who represents Silicon Valley, expressed his excitement for his colleagues' visit to his home area. In order to better understand how to both regulate and promote emerging technologies, Khanna said it is always beneficial for legislators to spend time studying about them.
“I think it would be wise for every member of Congress to spend a week in Silicon Valley,” Khanna said. “Technology is going to define so many fields from the economy to national security to our issues of citizenship, and we need people to be immersed in it, at least understanding it.”
The trip's main goal, according to Khanna and others, was to gather information. Although the discussions would probably influence upcoming decisions and hearings, lawmakers attended the events hoping to gain insight from business leaders on the ground.
Additionally, the group was scheduled to meet with venture capitalists on Thursday, including SV Angel, Khosla Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz. Khanna anticipated that the venture capitalists would talk about how the government might "better collaborate with the private sector" in order to stay ahead of China in significant new technology fields.
According to the source familiar with the committee's preparations, senators were scheduled to discuss cryptocurrencies with Stanford researchers on Friday before heading to Cupertino to meet with Cook at Apple's headquarters.
Khanna stated that he expected the corporate executives to notify the politicians of any advancements they have achieved in diversifying their supply chains outside of China and how they use export money from China to invest in the United States. Khanna predicted that Cook would "speak candidly about the supply chain issues," including the challenges and development of diversifying production outside of China, during the discussion with Apple's CEO.
Rep. Haley Stevens, D-Mich., claimed in a phone interview on Thursday that she noticed parallels between the difficulties the digital and media sectors in China confront and those faced by the car industry in her home state.
“Every meeting we’ve been in, in my opinion, has related back to Michigan’s economy and our ability to manufacture as a country,” Stevens said. “One of the themes that I came into the committee with as a manufacturing champion and as someone who understands the interrelatedness between manufacturing and tech is: What else do we need to do to incentivize and grow industrial policy in the United States of America?” Stevens said. She pointed to the passage of the Chips and Science Act as an example of incentivizing domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
“Now, we’re looking at other areas specific to supply chain vulnerabilities and weaknesses that are going to impact our economy and, aside from chips, we want to be competitive in quantum and artificial intelligence,” Stevens said.