Apple Music Censors Songs about Tiananmen Square Massacre for Chinese Government

Apple's bombshell and the trillion-dollar question
NOAH BERGER/AFP
TOM CICCOTTA

Watchdogs groups have accused Apple of censoring music that mentions the Tiananmen Square Massacre and democracy in China.

According to a report from the Hong Kong Free Press, Apple is censoring certain songs in China that mention the Tiananmen Square Massacre and democracy. In 1989, the Communist-led Chinese government killed and injured thousands of protesters that had occupied Tiananmen Square in Beijing for the purpose of bringing attention to basic human and press rights that were being violated in the country.

This week, Apple removed a song by Hong Kong artist Jacky Cheung that directly mentions that massacre. “The youth are angry, heaven and earth are weeping… How did our land become a sea of blood? How did the path home become a path of no return?” the lyrics to the song read. Other songs by Cheung are still available to stream in China.

The song is inaccessible on both Apple Music and QQ Music, a popular music streaming service in China that is owned by multinational Chinese conglomerate Tencent.

“By removing a song referring the Tiananmen Massacre, Apple is actively participating in the Chinese Communist Party’s agenda of scrubbing the colossal violations it has committed against the Chinese people from collective memory and rewriting history,” an analyst from the Human Rights Watch said in a tweet on Tuesday.

Some believe that China is looking to censor songs ahead of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the massacre.

Apple has faced intense criticisms over its decisions to cooperate with the Chinese government. China exercises strong control over the content that citizens are permitted to access on the internet. “The theme of this conference — developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits — is a vision we at Apple share,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in 2017. “We are proud to have worked alongside many of our partners in China to help build a community that will join a common future in cyberspace.”

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