Republican lawmakers flame Apple for censorship in China

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China’s population of 1.4 billion makes it a huge potential market for Apple.
China’s population of 1.4 billion makes it a huge potential market for Apple.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

A pair of GOP congresspeople have strongly criticized the decision to remove songs from artists critical of the Chinese Communist Party from Apple’s streaming music service in that country.

The move highlights the compromises the iPhone maker has to make in order to offer its products in a very lucrative market.

Hong Kong Free Press recently reported that a song by Jacky Cheung that mentions the Tiananmen Square Massacre has been removed, despite it being published shortly after the event. It contains the lyric “The youth are angry, heaven and earth are weeping …. How did our land become a sea of blood?”

Apple Music also took down songs from pro-democracy singers Denise Ho and Anthony Wong.

Congresspeople weigh in

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told The Verge,“It’s disgraceful to see one of America’s most innovative, influential tech companies support the Communist Chinese government’s aggressive censorship efforts within China as we near the Tiananmen Square Massacre’s 30th anniversary.”

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) took to Twitter to call Apple’s decision “a missed opportunity for Apple to stand up and be a stronger voice for freedom around the globe.”

Apple is in a tough spot in China

Apple has to walk a fine line in China. The country is extremely important to its bottom line. Sales of iPhone, iPad, software, etc. in China totaled $13.7 billion in the last three months of 2018, 16.25 percent of its total for that quarter.

To further underline this country’s importance, an approximately $5 billion year-over-year revenue decrease in that country was solely responsible for Apple’s first decline in quarterly revenue since before the first iPhone debuted.

And the Chinese Communist Party is very adverse to criticism. If Apple took a stand in favor of protestors against the Chinese government, it risks being denied access to the 1.4 billion consumers in that country.