Apple removes Quartz news app from App Store in China over Hong Kong coverage

Apple has removed Quartz‘s mobile app from the App Store in China after complaints from the Chinese government due to the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong protests. Quartz also says its entire website has also been blocked from being accessed in mainland China.

Nick Statt for The Verge:

The publication says it received a notice from Apple that the app “includes content that is illegal in China.”

Apple capitulating to the Chinese government is nothing new. The company’s deep business interests in China, which include a majority of its consumer electronics supply chain, mean that in almost all cases, it abides by the country’s censorship policies and its sensitive reactions to any and all criticism of the Chinese government.

Earlier this week, Apple removed the Taiwan flag emoji from iOS 13 for users in Hong Kong and Macau at the request of the Chinese government, which treats any suggestion that Taiwan, Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau should be considered independent entities as an offense to the sovereignty of the People’s Democratic Republic of China… Apple has made numerous other concessions over the years, including removing VPN apps from the Chinese App Store and censoring Hong Kong singers from the Chinese version of Apple Music.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, Tim Cook obviously put too many eggs in the Chinese basket and left them there for too long. Yes, we understand why it was done. Yes, it helped to save Apple. But, the move to diversify production worldwide in order to mitigate risk should obviously have begun earlier and more urgently. Apple needs to continue and step up their work to liberate themselves from communist China’s threats.

The Chinese authoritarians should never forget that Apple products need not be assembled in China.

China is critical for Apple in every way from sales to product assembly, so Apple continues to kowtow to China. With Apple’s strong stance – in other places of the world – on users’ rights and privacy, it’s a bad look for the company and a tough tightrope that Tim Cook is trying to walk. — MacDailyNews, July 29, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook sits on the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ board of directors, has a bust of RFK on his office desk, and likely knows this quote well:
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

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean millions don’t die when yet another authoritarian socialist republic implodes. Humans are really bad at learning from history, it seems. They love to repeat tragic mistakes over and over. It’d be funny, were it not for the hundreds of millions of deaths incurred.

As we wrote over a decade ago, “Business models that fly in the face of human nature are doomed to failure.”

Systems of government that fly in the face of human nature are doomed to failure, too.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. — Thomas Jefferson et al., United States Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

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

The Internet treats censorship as a malfunction and routes around it. — John Perry Barlow


  1. Even if Apple had no business in China besides just the App Store, it would still have to comply with local laws. Having too many eggs in the Chinese basket is a problem, but it is not THIS problem.

    1. The fact that Apple is hugely dependent on China is obviously a major component to this and every China censorship move to which Apple kowtows.

      So, what’s your angle in trying to deny or obfuscate the issue?

      1. It is you who are twisting the issue, Journo. TxUser simply stated that Apple would still have to comply with China’s laws to do business in China, regardless of its supply chain location.

        I am not denying that China has a much stronger hold on Apple because of the assembly of Apple devices in China. Obviously, that enables China to threaten Apple’s business worldwide, not just in China. But, even if Apple had no manufacturing interests in China, it would still have to comply with China’s laws in order to sell its devices and services in that country. That would still be a substantial business threat.

        TxUser’s post was valid. Your interpretation was skewed.

    2. Your logic is unassailable, TxUser.

      In addition, I would like to add that it is easy to assert that Apple should diversify its component supply chain and product assembly away from China into other countries. However, I suspect that it is much more difficult to actually accomplish. It isn’t as if Apple has not taken some steps to build up suppliers in other countries. And Apple has even dabbled in assembling the Mac Pro in the U.S. But the reality is that the U.S. began ceding manufacturing leadership to China decades ago. I recall seeing the signs in the 1970s when my father worked at General Electric on steel mill rolling machines. That GE plant was dying even then. A couple of decades later it shifted to software. Now I suspect it is vacant.

      The U.S. imports a wide variety of items made or assembled in China. To focus on Apple as a whipping post is ridiculous. Somehow people expect Apple to right all of the wrongs in the world just because it is a very large corporation. People forget all of the positive steps that Apple has already taken for workers (improvements in pay, working conditions, etc. throughout its supply and assembly chain), environment (recycling, reduced packaging, renewable energy), and consumer privacy (where permitted by law), even battling the U.S. government against mandatory encryption backdoors in iOS. Give Apple some credit where it is due, and moderate your criticism to what you can back up with knowledge and experience.

      Take a look at the first ten objects that you touch today. What is the nation tag on those items…?

  2. Hey the app was up for 2 days. Enough time for people to download it. Once it is on the phone I don’t think Apple can remove it.
    Apple does have to comply with local law. However they did find a way to get around it so a win-win.

    1. Yes, it was crucial in saving Apple. But it is evident that the movement to spread output globally in order to reduce risk should have started sooner and with more urgency. In order to free themselves from the dangers posed by communist China, Apple must continue and intensify their efforts. dordle

  3. The two totalitarian apologists above illustrate that there is no middle ground between freedom and slavery. Apple absolutely does NOT have to comply with laws that violate its principles to continue to do business in China if they leverage their massive value to the Chinese economy effectively.

    KingMel acts as if the decimation of American manufacturing was simply like a change in the weather, America ceded its dominance like you would pass on a dance partner. BS! This was a conscious, bipartisan betrayal starting with Nixon’s opening up trade relations with China and continuing practically until this year when one glorious man decided to put his foot down.

    If Tim Cook wants to cement his place in history it will not be through simply selling iPhones, it will be as a leader in re-industrializing the United States while slowly strangling the Chinese dictators and their criminal “laws”.

    1. Nick,

      You say that Apple is free to NOT follow Chinese law and continue to do business there. How so?

      Apple cannot leverage its economic activity against China. China knows that Apple is moving its manufacturing out as fast as it can. It isn’t going to announce that until the process is done, as Fitbit waited. Sadly, it is going to be a slow process, but it is inevitable under the current state of Sino-American relations. So, if China shuts Apple China down, it will just be hurrying up the inevitable. The impact on China would be substantial, but not huge in relation to the whole Chinese economy.

      For Apple to be shut out of China before there is an alternative would be double-plus huge in relation to Apple’s budget. China knows that, which is why Apple has no leverage against China. Suggesting that anything Apple can do could even possibly modify China’s behavior is ridiculous. An effort by Apple to threaten China is the equivalent of trying to control a hostage situation by threatening to shoot yourself in the head.

  4. All I want to say is this: on behalf of freedom longing Chinese, I’d like to call old panda faced Xi a kommie pinko panda faced despot jerk. Hey, panda boy Xi. You panda faced jerk. Now, I wish EVERY Chinese had the freedom to say what they want to say, think, write.

    1. Even if it were censorship by a major corporation, it is not a government action, so the First Amendment does not apply.

      Apple would argue that controlling their own corporate message is an aspect of THEIR free speech. Certainly the Chinese Government sees the apps on the store as Apple’s responsibility. If the App Store gets shut down, the developers and users of this app will be no better off, but Apple and its employees will be a lot worse off.

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