At the end of last month, Apple was involved in a small controversy when it was discovered that Macs sold in China had, from that moment, a system-level change that prevented them from displaying or typing the Taiwan flag emoji – symbolizing a kind of Chinese government censorship accepted by Apple. Now, another subject of the same order has swallowed the Apple.
Earlier in the week, Chinese journalists realized that the local version of the Apple Music was removing some, shall we say, controversial music – more precisely, pro-democracy songs and denouncing (nominally or subtly) the Massacre of Tiananmen Square and the oppression of the Communist Party of China.
It is explained: on June 4, 2019, the massacre – which is remembered for the iconic image (above) of the boy in front of the tanks and resulted in the death of hundreds of civilians – will turn 30, and Chinese activist groups will use the date to resonate with the struggle for freedom, democracy and an end to corruption in China. The government, of course, is not very satisfied with this, and ordered the removal of the songs.
Apple’s adherence to guidance has drawn criticism from around the world. Human Rights Watch’s Chinese division director Sophie Richardson called Apple’s attitude «spectacularly cowardly, even by Tim Cook’s Apple standards.» Yaqiu Wang, a researcher from the same organization, said:
By removing a song referencing the Tiananmen Massacre, @apple is actively participating in the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda of scrubbing the colossal violations it has committed against the Chinese people from collective memory and rewriting history.https: //t.co/YQAKEcecRh
– Yaqiu Wang 王亚秋 (@Yaqiu) April 9, 2019
By removing a song referring to the Tiananmen Square Massacre, Apple is actively participating in the actions of the Chinese Communist Party that seek to erase colossal violations against the people of China and rewrite history.
The opposite reactions also came from the other side of the world. American Senator Marco Rubio gave his opinion The Verge who finds it «shameful to see one of the country’s most innovative and influential companies support censorship initiatives» in Beijing, while Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers regretted that Apple was missing out on the chance to be a stronger voice for freedom in the world.
The subject is extremely thorny: Apple boasts of being a great promoter of freedom, diversity of opinions and social inclusion in its operations, but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like a good idea (from a finance standpoint, at least) to complain about the Chinese government – especially at a time when its position in China, the largest consumer market in the world, is so fragile.
What a situation…
via The Verge