China's iTunes Blocked: Pro-Tibet Album Believed to be Cause of Censorship

By August 22, 2008

China has given itself another black eye while the country is still on the world’s biggest stage. So far, China's Olympic journey to the west has featured the Great Firewall, lip-syncing and gymnast age scandals, fake buildings . . . and now China is reported to have blocked its populace’s access to iTunes. The lockout began Monday, a day after the album “Songs for Tibet - The Art of Peace” was released on iTunes. The album, obviously problematic for Chinese nationalists, includes songs by Sting, Alanis Morisette, Dave Mathews, and Garbage, as well as a 15-minute speech by the Dalai Lama. Michael Wohl, executive director of the Art of Peace Foundation believes that its album is responsible. "We issued a release saying that over 40 (Olympic) athletes downloaded the album in an act of solidarity, and that's what triggered it. Then everything got


Neither China nor Apple has revealed the source of the shutdown, but its coinciding with the release of “Songs for Tibet” leads people to believe that this is yet another example of the Chinese government’s strict internet censorship.

The Chinese government’s official internet information center,, said in a post August 8th that its netizens were “rallying together to denounce Apple in offering ‘Songs for Tibet’ for purchase. They have also expressed a wish to ban the album's singers and producers, most notably Sting, John Mayer and Dave Matthews, from entering China.”

With the advent of International Relations 2.0, blocking iTunes is like a pop Berlin Wall. Blocking Apple is not just blockading a product -- it’s practically blockading a zeitgeist.

One would think that, if it really is the case of Chinese censorship, they could have at least waited a few weeks, when the Olympics fade from international opinion’s eyes, to pull on the plug on iTunes. The only worse PR blunder -- and this is a ’worst of all possible worlds’ scenario -- is if someone were to pay Jerry Seinfeld $10 million to tout their publicly vilified product.

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