Apple Toes the Government Line With Engraving Policy in China
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has long offered its customers the option to engrave personalized messages on their iPhones, iPods, and iPads through the Apple Store’s online engraving service. Although Apple has a longstanding policy of not engraving obscenities, American customers are otherwise free to put whatever words or phrases they want on their iDevices. However, the Chinese Apple Store’s engraving policy extends far beyond banning obscenities.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Chinese Apple Store bans a wide range of words, names, and phrases that are considered politically sensitive by the country’s government. If any of these words are entered into Apple’s online engraving service, the user is greeted with a message that reads, “The engraved text is not suitable.”
Banned words include, “protest,” “freedom,” and “human rights,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Phrases such as “Tibet independence,” “Xinjiang independence,” “Taiwan independence,” and “1989 Tiananmen protest” are also not permitted. Names of political opponents to China’s communist government are also banned. “Li Hongzhi,” the name of the banned Falun Gong religious movement’s leader, is blocked from Apple’s engraving service in China. Not surprisingly, the popular Falun Gong slogan, “God will crush the Chinese Communist Party,” is also banned. The name of Tibet’s spiritual leader — the Dalai Lama — is forbidden, as is the name of jailed human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
Although Apple declined to discuss its Chinese engraving policy in detail, company spokesperson Carolyn Wu told the Los Angeles Times that, “We comply with local laws and requirements around the world.” Apple has implemented a similar policy when it comes to the apps available in the Chinese App Store.