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China Blocks iTunes 325

eldavojohn writes "If you like iTunes and you are one of the billion people residing in China, you may have noticed that you no longer have access to the eight million songs on it. An album, 'Songs for Tibet' was downloaded more than 40 times by Olympic athletes as a sign of solidarity for Tibet's cause. Ironically, this compilation had songs criticizing the 'Great Firewall of China,' and that is the very thing that prohibited these songs from reaching the Chinese public. Artists on the compilation include Alanis Morissette, Garbage, Imogen Heap, Moby, Sting, Suzanne Vega, Underworld and others." Additional coverage is available at Computerworld. Earlier this year, China blocked Youtube and other video services for similar reasons. More recently, the Chinese government detained a technologist who planned a pro-Tibet demonstration.
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China Blocks iTunes

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  • Re:Slashdot in China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @06:01AM (#24717109) Homepage Journal

    Can you even access slashdot from within China?

    I am not sure but a chinese guy in my team (I live in Australia) was browsing something which was obviously slashdot: same colors, layout, software etc but in chinese. I said to him hey thats slashdot and he said whats slashdot?.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:00AM (#24717341)

    I'm pretty sure the Chinese people have all the freedom they could wish for to criticise the American government as well. That's not about freedom, and what you're describing isn't about freedom. Does that mean you're unfree, or just that you're an idiot?

  • Re:Slashdot in China (Score:1, Interesting)

    by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:01AM (#24717349) Journal

    Yes, you can access slashdot from China. In fact, I'm sitting at a computer in one of Shanghai's suburban neighborhoods.

    Ok, that answers the question - thanks.

    You're jumping to some pretty big conclusions there.

    Maybe, but China's history of human rights abuses speaks for itself. I guess for pointing that out I deserve to be modded a troll, thanks for that moderators. Frankly, it makes me angry, because oppression of any people in any country provides lessons to oppress people anywhere.

    the Chinese government is so cruel and harsh that all the citizens are living in fear. Um, no.

    Hmmm, I remember videos and reports of the Chinese government running over one of their own citizens with a tank. And more recently allegations of organ harvesting from Falon Gong members []. So perhaps it's not fear more an imposed state of apathy, where it's extremely uncomfortable to talk about things the government doesn't want people to talk about. Tibet, Taiwan. Threatening two old ladies to 'hard labour re-education' [] because they *wanted* to protest reinforces the perceptions that the Chinese government is actually all that it's critics say it is. The emperor has no clothes.

    We really aren't that affected at all, and I can say (because yes, I have lived in the US and Australia) that life here is no different, except for the annoying fact that I can't access Freewebs.

    Great. Does that mean you a Chinese citizen? I'm free to say what I want and, yes, I'll defend your right to disagree with me, but I doubt that the same attitude is even vaguely present in China. I'm not having a go at you personally but I stand by my original "troll".

    Because if it wasn't true then why would the Chinese government even need a 'Great Firewall of China'.

  • !Ironic! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Facegarden ( 967477 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:19AM (#24717399)

    Soo... I hate to say it (err, okay, that's a lie, i love pointing these out!), but china blocking a song protesting china blocking things isn't irony! It's just not!

    Irony is (roughly) when something happens that is the opposite of what expected... but if you criticize a tyrant... you can expect to get censored!

  • by guyminuslife ( 1349809 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @07:40AM (#24717489)
    Gah, I hate getting roped into bickering on the Internet (which is different from arguing), but that just irritated me so much I have to respond before someone Godwins this thread.

    "A country should be able to make decisions about what ideas it tolerates within its borders."

    If you take the liberal constitutional approach, the one with all the founding fathers and such, no, absolutely not. If you take the ancient Athenian view, the one that killed Socrates, then yes, but only under a democratic government. Since the Chinese government is not democratically elected or accountable to "the people," you're conflating the "country" with the "people in power." That's okay, I guess, as long as you have some rationale for determining the legitimacy of the Chinese regime. Is that justification simply that the people in power have a right to speak for the country simply because they were able to pull themselves up to the top---e.g., might makes right? As far as I know that particular sophistry was debunked thousands of years ago (again, see Socrates). Is there some sort of divine authority that legitimizes the CCP's authority---doubtful, since they're atheistic. Capitalism has taken hold with a vengeance in China, so I guess Marxism's out the door. So what's the source of the Chinese government's "right" to do anything?

    "There's no scientific proof that our way is the universal right!"

    That might be because ethics does not pose any scientific questions. But maybe you're right; as long as there's one guy out there who doesn't agree with us, we should all abandon our principles for fear of offending his sensibilities.

    Okay, that was horrible.

  • by cloakable ( 885764 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:13AM (#24717621)

    Actually it makes perfect sense to me.

    I'm English. I therefore don't have the right to carry a firearm. This would probably cause (possibly armed) riots in the streets over in the USA. Me? I'm perfectly happy not carrying one, and knowing that the people I see aren't going to be carrying one.

  • by Rhapsody Scarlet ( 1139063 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:43AM (#24717749) Homepage

    They'd pull the internet connection; don't kid yourself.

    So they either give up the firewall and open up, or kill the internet access entirely and cut themselves off from what has proven to be the single most important invention of recent years. It's lose-lose for them, and win-win for us. What have we got to lose?

  • Re:Slashdot in China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by makomk ( 752139 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @08:49AM (#24717789) Journal
    To be honest, I think you're missing the point totally. Not only is there absolutely no evidence that Jean Charles de Menezes was shot for criticising official policy, I'm not aware of any evidence of him criticising policy.

    On the other hand, there is plenty of fairly solid evidence of bad things happening to people who criticise the Chinese government or its policies, and of deliberate attempts by the police to shut them up (usually, but not always, in the non-fatal sense). While it's unclear if these activities have official central government approval or are official policy, since they don't do anything to stop them they are complicit in said activities.
  • Re:Slashdot in China (Score:3, Interesting)

    by clragon ( 923326 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:03AM (#24717861)

    I was in China a couple of weeks ago to visit family and friends. I was in Nanjing and I used the internet to check on the availability of some site that I frequently use.

    There are 3 kinds of sites in China in terms of availability. The first is the site with its server in China, these sites are usually fast and reliable. But sometimes you can find a foreign site that responds really fast, like slashdot did for me.

    The second are the sites that are totally blocked. Apart from the obvious ones like I only found sites with satellite images blocked 24/7, such as wikimapia. Google map's Chinese version doesn't have satellite images.

    The last group of sites are somewhat in between the first and second. They are not available or unavailable 24/7 but you will loose connection to them at random or their connection will be very slow at times. Sites that go in this category are facebook, sourceforge, youtube, and many of the foreign sites.

    Now, it's hard to tell if the government blocked sites in the last group because they work fine most of them time, but all of the sudden the site will slow to a crawl or not show up at all.

    Now I know the ISP blocks sites that contain anti-government messages while you are browsing it, but when I looked at my last page before the connection slowed, there weren't any. So as a result most Chinese stick to Chinese forums to vent their frustration about the government or to get news on the newest embarrassing thing they did, because the sites are much faster for them.

  • by Bonobo_Unknown ( 925651 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:15AM (#24717941)
    China's evil is beyond communism, it's the worst of capitalism (profit is the most important value) socialism (complete government control) and fascism (persecution of minorities and group-think).
    Communism in it's true form is more akin to anarchism - it's never been seen to work because it's never really been tried...
  • Makes you think (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Vexorian ( 959249 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @09:43AM (#24718133)
    Would the US ban an album called songs for Guantanamo? Hmnn, interesting.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @10:17AM (#24718347)

    It would pretty much make the chinese firewall moot.


  • by kymarto ( 1349957 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @10:24AM (#24718395)
    In response to your first point: the assumption that democratic societies do better in the long run than totalitarian societies is now being directly challenged by China's ascension. Past totalitarian societies tended to be autarkic and limited market freedom, and as such were very inefficient economically. China has taken a different route and as Naomi Klein (The Shock Syndrome) says, China is now the world's most successful capitalistic society. I live in Beijing half of every year and travel throughout China. When you see 60 and 70 year-old ladies with pickaxes cheerfully working on building roads, you begin to understand the strength that China has at their command. If you can unite the people and motivate them towards fulfilling common goals you have a strong hand. There is a pioneer spirit in China that has long been lacking in most Western societies. But make no mistake, the Chinese are not docile: there were 78,000 protests in the country last year. The government is sitting on a societal nuclear reactor: they need to allow just enough freedom that people remain motivated, without allowing enough for people to feel emboldened to demand more than can be provided. There is a very conscientious direction using "carrot and stick" control rods to keep the reaction moderated without going critical... To compare China with the Middle East economically is way off base. IMO the ME produces nothing except oil because it can do so and remain viable, but China produces just about everything. According to Kevin Philips (in so many words), empires have historically tended to become fragile and crumble when the states controlling them turn from manufacturing and production of tangible goods to service and finance. By those lights, China is just in ascendancy. But wait: like Japan in the 80's I believe that the China's seeming strength masks critical structural problems. First, China is 100 years too late. Continued social stability in China is going to depend on people feeling that the government, for all its corruption and repression, is worth supporting because life is getting better for them. China's current growth is completely unsustainable in the long run with the current level of resource use. The Chinese leaders are between a rock and a hard place (aren't we all) choosing between quick gains using unsustainable means, and some sacrifice now and investment in R&D. So far they have pretty consistently chosen the former. Also, the demographics are not in their favor with the "success" of the one-child policy. Then there is the critical problem of corruption. Most people in the West see the CCP as a monolithic entity, without realizing that it maintains control through a complex tree of provincial governments and petty bureaucracies, many of which operate under the assumption that "the mountains are high and the emperor is far away", and are totally corrupt. The Party has stated that eliminating corruption is essential to its long-term survival. No easy task. Economically, too, there are storm clouds gathering. Already global capital is moving to Vietnam and other places where labor is even cheaper than in China; and the RMB is rising, making exports more expensive. Factories are closing everywhere and the government is talking about supporting the stock market. Make no mistake, China is presently strong and will remain strong for a long time to come, but the "good times" may well be coming to an end
  • Re:F*ck China! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Saturday August 23, 2008 @10:56AM (#24718649) Homepage

    Thing is, the Chinese people don't see it the same way as you and I, because this is how it's been for years. Boil a frog slowly...

    Free speech is a delicate battle in the rest of the world, because it gets in the way of government power mongers. In China, they've had power mongers forever, so the concept of free speech does not exist at all - it gets squashed anytime it pops up, "to protect society".

    It's a whole different world over there, one that's very difficult for us to completely understand.

  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @10:59AM (#24718663)
    Communism in it's true form is more akin to anarchism[sic] - it's never been seen to work because it's never really been tried...

    Indeed, well said. This is why, although I've always been a "leftie", I've never called myself a Marxist.

    In my experience, the only people who call themselves Marzists are those who have never actually read any Marx, and thus I am excluded. But anarchy would be an attractive alternative to our current situation if we could find a way to keep the big corporations from barging in and filling the gaps vacated by governments. Now that would be really ugly...

    I can see a flamewar starting here, so I should mention that my ruminations are largely a product of imagination and thought experiments, so keep it civil if you don't mind...
  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:20AM (#24718835)
    The rate of gun crime in England didn't exactly go down when the legal guns were taken away.

    What are you talking about? Civilians never had the right to go around carrying guns (the police don't either, excep for select groups), so from which orifice are you pulling your statistics?

    As for criminals, they will be criminals and the rest of society has no control over them. The whole point of being a criminal is to set yourself aside (outcast yourself, if you will) from the common aspirations of the community.
  • Re:Makes you think (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chainLynx ( 939076 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:30AM (#24718903) Homepage
    Makes you think why someone hasn't made that album yet. Guantanamo Bay deserves a better artistic critique than Harlold and Kumar are able to provide.
  • by adjwilli ( 530933 ) on Saturday August 23, 2008 @11:32AM (#24718919) Homepage
    Bill Clinton pushed for Chinese admission into the WTO as a means of liberalizing China through open international trade. The US has already accused China of illegally hindering its importation of US movies and music ( Completely banning the iTunes Store (the largest online music retailer, which is US-based) further these charges.

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin