Wardle explained how, due to a NULL pointer cockup, some iPhones that had set the USA as their default country would crash when receiving the flag or word as part of a text message, or when typing it.
Any company that wants to do business in China has to abide by the draconian censorship laws imposed by the country's government.
Wardle notes that Apple probably created code in iOS to remove Taiwan's flag emoji at the behest of the Chinese government, and that code is the cause of the suspicious crashes. According to security researcher Patrick Wardle, Apple's efforts to appease the Chinese government led to an annoying iPhone bug that it only just fixed in the most recent software update, after the bug plagued users for two years. English can still be set as the primary language, though.
The iPhone's notorious closed nature made analyzing the bug challenging.
However, Tim Cook's coding crew must have been clocking off early for some avocado on sourdough, as they had left a bug lying in the tweaked mobile operating system. "Chinese iPhones won't display this flag and will instead show a missing character tofu". Wardle also privately reported the bug to Apple.
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Apple reportedly altered some code to help China not get too angry over its "Taiwanese claim".
The filter, apparently, was to block the flag and name of Taiwan from users in the heavily-censored mainland China.
After two+ years of being unable to type "Taiwan" or being remotely DOS'd anytime her phone received an Taiwanese flag emoji, the fix (kudos to my friend Josh S. for the idea!), was simply to toggle the region from USA to China, then back to US. China claims the country as its territory, but Taiwan claims it has the right to self-govern.
Simply switching the region back again would fix the issue. If someone with their location set to China would try typing "Taiwan", their iPhone would end up crashing, as well.