Apple Runs Up Against State Censorship in China, Again

1 minute read
| Analysis

Apple is once again running into issues with state censorship in China, according to Xinhua. Two different agencies will call Apple into their offices to demand tighter controls over streaming apps in the App Store.

Censorship in China

The move is part of a crackdown on streaming content from three Chinese sites: toutiao.com, huoshanzhibo.com, and huajiao.com. Government regulators said those three sites were offering illegal content, including porn.

Those companies had apps in Apple’s App Store in China. The Beijing Public Security Bureau and Beijing Cultural Market Administrative Law Enforcement Team want Apple more involved in policing such things.

Apple’s China Syndrome

This is part and parcel of the struggle Apple faces in China. On the one hand, China’s government is an authoritarian communist government in the hands of a single party very focused on perpetuating the control of that party. Really, that’s the other hand, too, but the other hand is highly interested in tamping down the success of western companies in China.

And thus we have Apple forced to shut down its iBooks and movie offerings on iTunes. More recently, Apple was forced to pull The New York Times‘ app from the Chinese app store. China hates the idea of its people getting unfettered access to information.

Apple is far from the first U.S. tech giant to face such pressures. Facebook is banned outright. Microsoft chose to censor Bing to stay in business in China, while Google closed down its China business and redirected Chinese queries to its Hong Kong operation.

The problem for Apple is that these kinds of pressures are bound to increase. The bigger Apple gets, the more interest China has in knocking it down. At the same time, the bigger Apple gets, the more it becomes a pawn in political jousting between China and the U.S.

It’s a tricky spot for Apple to be in, to be sure.

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