Apple Store, Fifth Avenue, NYC

Apple’s House, Apple’s Rules (photo: Matias Cruz)

Following the removal of pro-Democracy songs in China, Apple is facing a backlash led by Republican politicians. Apple Music in China removed several Hong Kong singers from its platform.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke to The Verge about Apple’s decision to be complicit in the Chinese government’s attempts at censorship.

“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 says Apple has turned a blind eye to egregious human rights violations in exchange for access to the Chinese market. Jacky Cheung’s song with lyrics referencing the Tiananmen Square massacre was removed just two days ago.

Representative Cathy McMorris Rodger (R-WA) joined in the admonishment of Apple yesterday. She said the company needs to “be a stronger voice for freedom around the globe.”

Oregon Representative Greg Walden chimed in, adding,

“We need to ask serious questions to ensure human rights are being protected. If these reports are true, Apple owes the public an explanation.”

Every year around June 4th, the Chinese government goes into overdrive to censor mentions of the protest.  Apple has obliged the government by censoring emojis, removing VPN apps, and now censoring songs on Apple Music.

Several outspoken pro-democracy activists have had their music removed from Chinese streaming services. These songs still remain available on Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and US versions of Apple Music.

Apple is working to expand its retail operations in China, which means the company has to align itself with China’s government. Last year Apple moved its Chinese customer data to a local firm in southern China. The firm has very close ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Human rights watchdogs called Apple a sell-out for that move.  This shift essentially gives the Chinese government access to all Chinese user data.