Apple Censors News Show ‘China Uncensored’ in Hong Kong and Taiwan

Satirical news show China Uncensored says that the Apple TV app store has blocked users from accessing it not only in Mainland China, but also in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Curated by Chris Chappell, the show was launched on YouTube in 2012, and is currently aired by New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television (NTD.TV).

The show mocks the Chinese Communist Party and its authoritarian rule by curating news about crackdowns on dissidents, persecution of religious minorities and state-sponsored hacking activities, and turning them into satirical reporting. Oftentimes, its stories are a mixture of jokes and facts that are built upon the stereotypical image of a totalitarian China.

In a press statement on April 5, 2017, Chris Chappell stressed:

Although Hong Kong is part of China, under the One Country Two Systems principle, the region has an independent legal system. As for Taiwan, it has been a de-facto self-governed entity since Kuomingtang of the Republic of China was defeated by the Chinese Communist Party and fled to the island in 1949.

In both regions, NTD.TV has reporters covering local news. In March 2017, Apple approved the China Uncensored Apple TV app for availability in most of the world, but removed it from app stores in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Apple‘s legal team said its decision is in accordance with local laws:

Chris Chappell responded with satirical questions in a press statement:

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook on April 3, Chappell urged Apple to unblock the China Uncensored in Hong Kong and Taiwan app stores, and vowed that he was prepared to take both legal and political action:

Since 2013, Apple has started taking down apps — including banned books and circumvention tools — from its China iTunes store in order to comply with local laws. In June 2016, China tightened its control over mobile applications with the introduction of Provisions on the Administration of Mobile Internet Application Information Service.

These regulations outlaw applications that spread rumors and information deemed harmful to national security. In January 2017, The New York Times was taken down from the Apple iTunes Store because of such provisions. However, the newspaper’s app remains available in the Hong Kong and Taiwan versions of the store.

In the letter to Cook, Chappell stressed that while he is aware of the restrictions in China, the management of Apple’s Hong Kong and Taiwan app stores should be different:

There is no point in disputing your app store decision with respect to mainland China… but Hong Kong and Taiwan are not ruled by the Chinese Communist Party. They are regions that operate under independent legal systems.

China Uncensored launched a petition on April 4 urging its viewers and supporters to tell Apple to “uncensor” the China Uncensored app from its Hong Kong and Taiwan app stores. As at the time of this story’s publication, more than 9,522 people had signed.

This article by Oiwan Lam originally appeared on Global Voices.

[Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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