China Blocks the iTunes Store

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

> Access to Apple’s online iTunes Store has been blocked in China after it emerged that Olympic athletes have been downloading and possibly listening to a pro-Tibetan music album in a subtle act of protest against China’s rule over the province.

Wow, I sure have bad timing. I just bought an iPhone. I just wanted to download free apps from the iTunes store, but since Sunday evening I can’t connect at all. (I wonder how much business Apple USA gets from China, though?)


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. I was trying to think of something more eloquent, but all I could come up with was:


  2. This better be a short term banning. That’s all I have to say….

  3. Hrmmm.. I wonder what kind of reaction this will get.. I have been giving the Olympics a miss entirely so I’m not sure if there’s been any news about this locally but you’d think the PRC govt would be a little more subtle about things like this while the whole world is watching.

    It’s one thing to block the internet or certain site due to direct anti-PRC content, it’s entirely different to block because people are downloading pro-tibetan content. And it’s not like they are directly protesting against it either… all this does is highlight what they were doing and why, resulting in the opposite outcome overall..

  4. Psssst…..…. wink wink

  5. VPNs from Witopia are also good, and will solve all your blocking problems for less than 1 RMB a day.

  6. Was gonna give you the the same…wink, wink…but I see it’s not necessary. Though after reading your post, I did check on my system and I can still access the iTunes Store via…psssst, psssst.

  7. This will all blow over when Hu Jin Tao get’s an iPhone..

  8. But what a weird kind of “protest”…?! Besides, how exactly did that “emerge”? I reckon they didn’t go round waving about their MP3 with a Xizang flag on the display as album art…

    I wonder why our Party has to be so obvious about some things. The international stage is slippery, so one shouldn’t judge too harshly. 😉 (but interestingly, everyone abroad sides with the small region. Perhaps it’s just me, but if celebrities endorse something, it isn’t necessarily true…)

    @ Nick 呵呵

  9. Let me just say…
    FREE [you know where]! WOOO!!!!!!11!!!1!

    Okay…anyway. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. There are about a billion other places that the athletes can download Tibetan music. Maybe they’re just interested in world culture and there’s no protesting about it…

    In this case the Govt = 250.

  10. What a strange overreaction. It just makes the regime look silly and desperate. It’s like closing down all libraries because one had a forbidden book. And how much proaganda value can a few songs have?

  11. John

    Being that you live in Shanghai, I have to ask this question. Are they selling genuine iPhones in China?

    Can U use a different site to download music? If so, then let me know and I will post a link on my website so that others in a similar predicament can get the music… Or I can link them to your site.

    Let me know.

    Greg Pasden
    World Explorer

  12. Only imperialists and subversives own iPhones, so it’s ok to block to the site in China.

  13. Let’s think: If listening to Xizang music was an offense, then they’d have to jail all the Chinese actually living in that region. So I’m sure there has to be more to this piece of news than meets the eye. That’s usually the case. Every coin has two sides, yet in the end, the surfaces don’t matter, but the material itself.

    @ChinaMatt Actually, when it’s comes to iPhones, that statement would be true. Few Chinese can afford these gadgets and those who can are either lucky or, well… . But not everything’s an iPhone, you know. I’m a bit annoyed because I had wanted to subscribe to a few educational podcasts, for a plain normal MP3.

  14. @John

    If I were you, I’d delete (or harmonize) dmh’s comment ASAP.


    Total China blog party foul man. I’ve actually had my own blog blocked on several occasions because of comments like that, usually made in jest. Just try to be a little more careful when leaving comments on people’s blogs.

  15. In the government’s defense, the “Songs for Tibet” compilation is horrible. Just awful stuff. If Alanis Morissette, Sting, and Moby agree on something, they are probably wrong.

  16. Oh, and Dave Matthews. Ew.

  17. coljac Says:

    What a strange overreaction. It just makes the regime look silly and desperate.

    Beijing won the bid for hosting a most stunning Olympics. Are they really “silly and desperate” as they seem to be? Think twice.

  18. Try using hotspot shield.

  19. I wonder how much business Apple USA gets from China

    I don’t know about Apple USA but I do know iPods -and probably other Apple products- are assembled in China. At least that’s what I could read on mine. So I guess this explains why the iTune store might be blocked temporarily on a whim… Fortunately wink wink and pssst pssst are here to save the day!

  20. Just try to be a little more careful when leaving comments on people’s blogs.

    That’s the beauty of censorship in action, right there: it’s self-policing! And that’s why certain governments use censorship — not so a handful of people can’t read something, but so that 99% of the population will learn to censor themselves, so much so that it just becomes second nature. FEAR: it’s what for dinner.

  21. is it a legit iphone or one cracked while in china? i’ve heard they’ll just brick if you try to use the hacked ones on the actual apple services.

    as for how much business they get, there are authorized dealers all over, many of which are legit. i see their notebooks all over and iphones every time i get on the subway in shanghai. and actually from what ive heard, less than 3/5 of the iphones sold in the US actually got registered with AT&T, presumably because they’re sent elsewhere. so there’s certainly money to be made. otherwise they wouldnt have just moved back into hongkong.

  22. Thanks for the proxy/VPN suggestions, guys, but the whole point is to complain about the blocking.

  23. Mark and Kellen,

    I was referring to sales made through the (online) iTunes Store. It’s a big part of the Apple strategy… to create physical products which drive sales through the virtual store, and vice versa. I don’t think the iTunes Store is getting much traction in China, though. If that’s the case, Apple is probably less bothered by the recent blocking than they might be otherwise.

  24. […] Let me know if you have any questions about the experience. I was initially somewhat wary of buying 水货, but the company subsidy was just the push I needed. After learning a lot about the iPhone in the past week, I’m quite pleased with the purchase and with the iPhone’s functionality in China, even despite a recent iTunes Stores block. […]

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