Apple Music in China caught censoring songs about Tiananmen Massacre

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iPHones in China
Tim Cook has said that China is Apple's future. That could pose some problems.
Photo: Tim Cook/Weibo

The 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre is coming up this June, but you won’t hear anything about it on Apple Music.

Chinese journalists recently discovered that Apple Music’s Chinese service censored a song that mentions the 1989 pro-democracy protests where thousands of people were killed. The topic is extremely controversial for the Chinese Communist Party and it appears that Apple is just fine with blotting it out if that’s the price of doing business in China.

Sophie Richardson, Human Rights Watch’s China director, called the move “spectacularly craven.”

Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung’s song “Ren Jian Dao” came under censorship despite being nearly as old as the massacre itself. The song refers to the protest with the following line: “The youth are angry, heaven and earth are weeping …. How did our land become a sea of blood?”

The song is available on Apple Music in the United States, but not China, according to Gizmodo.

“By removing a song referring 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,” tweeted Yaqiu Wang, a China researcher with Human Rights Watch.

Apple Music also removed songs from pro-democracy singers Denise Ho and Anthony Wong. Ho became a famous pro-democracy activist after participating in Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” protests in 2014. She was one of the most popular artists in Hong Kong for a while but has been trashed by the Chinese state media for her pro-democracy message.