Earlier this week, it was discovered that Apple Music in China had been censored to remove a reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre. Now, Apple is facing backlash from politicians in the United States for ceding to the Chinese government’s request.
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The song in question, titled The Path of Man and performed by Hong Kong singer Jacky Cheung, features lyrics that “directly” refer to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Last week, that song was seemingly removed from Apple Music, as well as other streaming services in China such as QQ Music.
Furthermore, Hong Kong singer Anthony Wong also had all of his songs removed from Apple Music in China this month. Songs by pro-democracy singer Denise Ho were also removed.
Following these controversial removals in China, Apple is now facing criticism from politicians in the United States. As reported by The Verge, Senator Marco Rubio called Apple’s decision to censor Apple Music in China “disgraceful.”
“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,” Rubio said.
Rubio also said that Apple has “turned a blind eye to its complicity” in China in exchange for market access. The senator described the Chinese government as performing “Orwellian levels of mass surveillance, thought censorship, and human rights abuse.”
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris said Apple should have used this instance to “be a stronger voice for freedom around the world” in a post on Twitter. “Just the latest example of an American tech company choosing to be complicit in the Chinese Communist Party’s high-tech totalitarian state,” she wrote.
Congressman Greg Walden said that Apple “owes the public an explanation” when asked about the Apple Music censorship.
Apple has been criticized by U.S. politicians for its relationship with China before. In 2017, Rubio slammed Tim Cook for Apple’s “desperate” relationship with China. Senators Ted Cruz and Leahy also criticized the company for removing VPN applications from the Chinese App Store.