Commentary

Apple's Removal Of 'Quartz' App In China Marks Defeat For Press Freedom

Apple's recent ban of Quartz's news app in China is another worrisome sign of American companies' willingness to abandon principles they claim to champion in their home countries.

The iPhone maker this week removedQuartz, which is published by Japanese media company Uzabase, from the Chinese version of the App Store after complaints from China's government. Mainland China also banned access to Quartz's website because of its coverage of Hong Kong protests, The Verge reported.

"We abhor this kind of government censorship of the internet and have great coverage of how to get around such bans around the world," Zach Seward, CEO of Quartz, said in a statement emailed to Publishing Insider.

Quartz still runs a virtual private network that aims to get around the "Great Firewall of China" that separates the country's internet from the rest of the world.

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There's nothing stopping the Chinese government from making greater demands on Apple, especially as the iPhone maker wades deeper into content distribution. Instead of just selling overpriced phones, Apple has a burgeoning services business that includes movies, TV series, music, magazines and videogames.

Apple may be required to censor content aimed at American audiences for the sake of selling millions of iPhones and AirPods in China. Unlike tech giants like Facebook and Google, Apple still has access to China, at least for now.

More U.S. companies need to stand up for principles like press freedom, instead of behaving like spineless lapdogs.

China's silencing of critics through censorship or brute force is a sign of fearful and weak leadership that cannot justify its existence in an open debate.

Quartz is another victim of China's growing encroachment on U.S. media.

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