News organization Quartz says Apple has removed its mobile app from the Chinese version of its App Store after complaints from the Chinese authorities. Per Quartz, this is because of the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong protests, and the company says its website has been blocked from being accessed in mainland China.
In a statement, Quartz CEO Zach Seward, who filled the position of chief executive two days ago, says, “We abhor this kind of government censorship of the web, and have great coverage of how to get around such bans all over the world.” The statement points to the publications’ coverage of VPNs, which can be utilized to bypass restrictions on accessing certain parts of the internet from mainland China. Quartz also links out to its stories on the Hong Kong protests.
Apple capitulating to the Chinese authorities is nothing new. The company’s deep business interests in China, which embody a majority of its consumer electronics supply chain, imply that in nearly all cases, it abides by the nation’s censorship policies and its delicate reactions to any and all criticism of the Chinese authorities.
Earlier this week, Apple deleted the Taiwan flag emoji from iOS 13 for users in Hong Kong and Macau at the request of the Chinese authorities, which treats any suggestion that Taiwan, Hong Kong, Tibet, and Macau ought to be considered unbiased entities as an offense to the freedom of the People’s Democratic Republic of China.
Apple has made quite a few other concessions over time, such as deleting VPN apps from the Chinese App Store and redacting Hong Kong singers from the Chinese version of Apple Music.