China’s increasing censorship hits Apple, but Apple might punch back

“Last week, Apple’s iBooks Store and iTunes Movies were shut down in China, just six months after they were started there,” Paul Mozur and Jane Perlez report for The New York Times. “Initially, Apple apparently had the government’s approval to introduce the services. But then a regulator, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, asserted its authority and demanded the closings, according to two people who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

“The about-face is startling, given Apple’s record in China. Unlike many other American tech companies, Apple has succeeded in introducing several new products — like its mobile payments system Apple Pay — in China recently. New resistance from the Chinese government to that expansion could potentially hurt the Cupertino, Calif., company,” Mozur and Perlez report. “China’s pushback against Apple shows that the company may finally be vulnerable to the heightened scrutiny that other American tech companies have faced in recent years. That scrutiny was spurred by revelations from the former United States National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden in 2013 of the use of American companies to conduct cyberespionage for Washington.”

“After the shutdown of Apple’s services, President Xi Jinping of China, who has led a crackdown on Western ideology, conducted a meeting on Tuesday in Beijing on China’s restrictive Internet policies… ‘China must improve management of cyberspace and work to ensure high-quality content with positive voices creating a healthy, positive culture that is a force for good,’ a report by the state-run news service Xinhua quoted Mr. Xi as saying,” Mozur and Perlez report. “There have been some signs of trouble ahead. Mr. Xi has presided over a deep freeze on the Internet, increasing censorship and taking aim at online tools used to circumvent China’s system of online filters, known as the Great Firewall. He has also added new policy tools to keep tabs on electronic communications.”

“The two Apple services that Chinese regulators shut down, iTunes Movies and the iBooks Store, compete directly with Chinese Internet companies’ products,” Mozur and Perlez report. “That push may eventually trickle down to other Apple services. Apple Pay, for example, competes with mobile payments systems from some of China’s largest Internet companies: Alibaba and Tencent. In the longer term, China’s tough line on foreign tech companies like Apple could have heavy consequences for the Chinese economy, [Daniel H. Rosen, founding partner of Rhodium Group, a New-York based advisory firm specializing in the Chinese economy] said. ‘As surely as the tremendous welfare gains for China and its people from deepening links to global tech production, disassembling those connections is likely to entail a heavy economic loss,’ he said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The Chinese totalitarians should never forget that Apple products need not be assembled in China.

Every dictatorship has ultimately strangled in the web of repression it wove for its people, making mistakes that could not be corrected because criticism was prohibited. — Robert F. Kennedy

A word to the unwise.
Torch every book.
Char every page.
Burn every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.

   — Ellen Hopkins

It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice. — Robert F. Kennedy

Apple has always had the discipline to make the bold decision to walk away. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, March 2015

China shutters Apple’s online book and movie services – April 22, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook joins Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ board of directors – April 6, 2016


  1. The measure of any government’s legitimacy is the level of its leaders’ fear of its own people. China clearly has a problem. When the economy comes crashing down, which it inevitably will, there will be a lot of blood in the streets.

    The motives that the article gives for the shutdown are possibly incorrect. I don’t think it is a competition issue, rather, I think that Apple has refused to cave in to the new Chinese media (censorship) laws that have been put in place overseeing online content providers. The top level domains have to be registered with Chinese domain registries (which opens up the services to potential “man in the middle” attacks), and all content has to be hosted on servers in China. The government has also been arresting publishers and sellers of hard copy books and other publications, even in Hong Kong which is supposed to be semi-autonomous.

    In any case, I think it would be totally fair for the governments in the west to start making life difficult as difficult for Chinese companies in our markets as it is for our companies in China.

    A good start would be changing securities regulations to make it much more difficult for Chinese companies to list on western stock exchanges. This would be the easiest way to much back.

    1. The answer, believe it or not, is Trump.

      The same things the establishment (right and left) say about Trump today, they said about Reagan when he was running against Carter.

      You want real change, for the better, for a change? The only man who is beholden to no one is who should get your vote.

        1. You can’t say Trump is that bad because he’s never held public office. People can despise him all they want, but the truth is that we won’t know how he’ll govern until he actually does. I don’t look for politicians as “the answer”, but I recognize the need to stop the the dumping of the third world onto the United States before it disappears. When your bathtub is overflowing you don’t start by mopping up the floor.

    1. You do know that should Trump win and carry out his plans to curtail China’s business interests, the coming economic turmoil will make the great recession of a decade ago look like a minor economic downturn.

      For better or for worse, our economies are joined at the hip. Let’s be careful what we wish for.

    1. I would like to see that too. But you’ll need to implement two very unpopular changes to the labor force. 1) Remove the minimum wage and let supply and demand set the true prevailing wage. 2) Allow Mexicans and Central Americans to legally work in this country.

      I’m not holding my breath for either of those things to happen. So don’t hold your breath for Apple to bring iPhone production to the U.S.

      1. And raise your hand if you would an Apple manufacturing city in your back yard. (And when I say “city” I do mean a city of 200k – 400k people, because that’s what it take to do what Apple does. )

        Most people have no idea of the scale of the facilities required by Apple to produce their products.

  2. Time for Apple to completely exit China’s shores before any more of their intellectual property can be stolen or be privy to. Doing this action the Chinese government is liable to do anything. This sends a very chilly message to the West wanting to do business there. Funny how that doesn’t seem to worry them. And Apple is not exactly a small contributor there. if they can do this to Apple…

  3. “The Chinese totalitarians should never forget that Apple products need not be assembled in China.”

    That’s right there are other cheap markets. Heck I’m sure Apple could build a manufacturing plant right next to the Guantanamo on the Bay Resort. Just think of all the cheap labor they’ll be able to get.

      1. Good idea, now that the war mongering invaders have left and the North and South are now merged into a peaceful country it should be open for more business.

        1. Peaceful. So peace at gunpoint is OK?!! Did you forget that Vietnam is still a very repressive nation? I’m sure the people of South Korea are all in tears that the U.S. intervened and prevented them from being forcibly joined to the wonderful Kim dynasty. Your sense of history and lack of perspective is truly bizarre.

        2. Did you forget that your country is still a very repressive nation? I’m sure that the innocent people at the Guantanamo on the Bay are all in tears that your nation intervened and prevented them from being treated like human beings and instead being forcibly tortured. Your sense of history and lack of humanity is truly patriotic…to your country, certainly not to humanity.

          A nation that represses its own people is horrible, but it’s nothing compared to a nation that represses the world. Try to put that into perspective next time your country goes galavanting on a war mongering rampage, which I expect will happen very shortly after you elect your next leader.

        3. oh yeah all the prisoners in Guantanamo are just innocent taxi cab drivers that the big, bad U.S. just nabbed for fun. Funny how you seem not to noticed that many of the former Guantanamo prisoners have been found fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria.

          However keep believing that only the U.S. is the only country bombing while the Iranians and especially the Russians are just taking a vacation in Syria.

        4. I would not know about all the prisoners at the Guantanamo on the Bay report, many have not the seen justice of a trial:

          “Human Rights Watch is convinced that the continued use of the military commissions is a grave mistake. Given their substandard procedures and tainted history, Human Rights Watch does not believe that judgments handed down by military commissions will be perceived as legitimate, either domestically or internationally.

          As of August 2014, only Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, and the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks actually face formal charges.”

          This so called country has had these people for over a decade and doesn’t even have the balls to formally charge them? That along with putting themselves above the law just flushes any sense of morality and ethics totally down the toilet.

          Oh some have left the Guantanamo on the Bay Resort and have been found fighting? After being subjected to total darkness, loud noises, beatings. being dragged naked and hooded over dirt floors, waterboarding, slamming against walls, and prolonged sleep deprivation I would expect most people would be pretty pissed off. Heck just reading about it leaves me with no sympathy towards that country.

          Just because I haven’t commented on something doesn’t mean I haven’t noticed it and I’m fully aware that there are others that are bombing, though I think the Russians were invited by the Syrian government, as opposed to those that just like to bully themselves uninvited though come to think of it that’s pretty well what the Russians did when they took over Crimera, but at least they were courteous enough not to have fired a single shot when they did it.

        5. I am not for holding prisoners indefinitely but to say that all the prisoners caught by the military are just the wrong guys that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time is hard to believe.

          I am not sure how “this country” needs to have the balls to formally charge them, if they are being a prisoner. Blame the lawyers for making things murky when identifying people that carry a gun and are shooting people.

          You mentioned how the prisoners are being beaten, water boarded, slammed against the walls. Yet you fail to mention how the guards have feces and urine thrown at the guards and how they riot at any slight the prisoner claims is done to them.

          Being invited by the Syrian government is the justification for the bombing of the civilians by the Russian? Wow! I am glad that courtesy still exists even when bombing the innocents. Oh I love how you act like that the invasion of the Crimea was also alright since the regular army units did not do the shooting. However those so-called rebels sure did the dirty work for the Russians and for rebels they were pretty well armed.

          Again it is good to just pick one side to continue your agenda but it won’t hurt to see both sides of the coin.

        6. I never said nor did I ever imply that all those at Guantanamo Resort on the Bay were innocent. From what I’ve read there have been around 775 special guests at the resort, most of them have been released without charge, there are about 80 still there.

          I’m not going to explain what is lacking for that country to deliver justice to these folks but it seems to me that the responsibility is up to the government and I know how appalling it’s become.

          You fail to mention when you go on about the detainees are resorting to throwing feces and urine thrown at them. Gee take an innocent person and incarcerate them and threat them in an inhumane way, and you are surprised at the results? Oh please try that with someone else. You forgot an instance where a guard was kneed in the groin.

          Not being invited by the Iraqi government and made up excuses is the justification of the bombing of civilians and the disruption of a sovereign nation. Wow, I’m not glad of that lack of courtesy that exists when your country into Iraq.

          You are doing nothing but trying to point out the failings of others to distract from your own. It’s a common tactic, it probably works for you in this case.

          I do look at both sides of the coin, the free and civilized world does not behave in this manner that your country does. I’ve pointed it out many times. Your nation is on the other side, got it?

          Now if you’ll drop the smoke and mirrors take a good hard look at your side, take up responsibility and clean up your own mess.

        7. “I never said nor did I ever imply that all those at Guantanamo Resort on the Bay were innocent. From what I’ve read there have been around 775 special guests at the resort, most of them have been released without charge, there are about 80 still there.”

          I notice for someone that claims not to like the detention of people of Guantanamo , you sure like to try to make light of the plight of the prisoners. I just wonder what would be your explanation for this one?

          “I do look at both sides of the coin, the free and civilized world does not behave in this manner that your country does. I’ve pointed it out many times. Your nation is on the other side, got it? ”

          Got what? That you accuse others of implying your intentions but yet you do the same? I do not know where you got the idea I am American but let me tell you that I am not;

          “Not being invited by the Iraqi government and made up excuses is the justification of the bombing of civilians and the disruption of a sovereign nation. Wow, I’m not glad of that lack of courtesy that exists when your country into Iraq.”

          Again you imply that I am an American. This just shows that the people doing the accusing fail to see their very faults that they are accusing of others. I also noticed this obsession of ‘courtesy” that you have concerning how countries are being treated. Am i to assume that if the US had asked pretty please when it invaded Iraq that it would have been ok?

          You claim to see both sided of the coin but to me it looks like the coin that the Batman character Two Face where both sides of the coin show the same picture. Keep telling yourself that you represent civilization.

  4. Shame on MDN for swallowing the NYT narrative hook, line, and sinker. Next time try reading the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, which actually knows something about China and isn’t so irredeemably opposed to Apple. They are reporting that the reason for the closure is linked to the controversial anti-PRC HK film Ten Years, which the PRC government had banned and does not want Apple to distribute vis iTiunes. In short the popularity of the film in HK has panicked authorities and the action against Apple is part of a coordinated attempt at suppression.

  5. Yes AAPL will be hurt in the short term but use the plan to exit out of Communist China into the Philippines at Subic Bay.
    Bullying will only punish China in the end when Western countries leave.
    Do Not invest or buy from China!!

  6. .. like someone addicted to drugs, going cold turkey from china will hurt like hell. But only for a time and soon the withdrawals will fade. We may loose money in the process but in the end we will be better off. I would rather pay more for my “stuff” and have less of it. In the end its not what we have but who we are that counts.

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