Apple blocks Dalai Lama iPhone app in China

Apple is reportedly blocking iPhone users in China from downloading applications from the Dalai Lama and exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

The Chinese government considers both as 'separatists'. They accuse the Dalai Lama of seeking to establish an independent Tibet and photos of the exiled leader have been banned in Tibet for years.

Tibet declared itself independent in 1912, but has been ruled directly from Beijing since Chinese troops invaded the region in 1951. China argues Tibet has been part of a bigger motherland since the 13th century.


A salesman sits behind a display showing Apple iPhones in Beijing. Apple has reportedly blocked access to apps related to the Dalai Lama

The US-based Kadeer has been branded a 'criminal' by Chinese authorities who have blamed her for bloody riots in the city of Urumqi pitting mainly Muslim minority Uighurs against members of China's dominant Han group.

IDG News Service, publisher of PC World and other magazines, said at least five software programmes related to the Tibetan spirtual leader are unavailable in Apple's China App Store, along with one for Kadeer.

The move makes Apple the latest US technology giant to censor its services in China.

An Apple spokesman said: 'We continue to comply with local laws. Not all apps are available in every country.'

China regularly blocks access to websites deemed sensitive and a number of US companies, including Microsoft, Google and Yahoo!, have been hauled before the US Congress in recent years and accused of complicity in building what has been called the 'Great Firewall of China.'

Dalai Lama

The Chinese government considers the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to be a separatist

US technology firms contend they must comply with China's laws in order to operate there.

IDG said the paid and free iPhone applications which are unavailable in China provide inspirational quotes from the Dalai Lama or information about Nobel peace prize winners.

The Dalai Lama is the 1989 Nobel peace laureate.

'It's of course very likely that it's Apple, not the developers, that are preventing certain apps from appearing,' an unidentified China-based app developer told IDG.

James Sugrue, designer of the Dalai Quotes app, told IDG he 'wasn't informed' by Apple that his program was unavailable in China.

'Apple reserve the right to do this sort of thing, and while from a censorship point of view I disagree with this, I can understand why they did,' Sugrue said.

In August last year, access to iTunes was temporarily blocked for users in China after a pro-Tibet album became a hit on Apple's online music store.

Chinese telecom carrier China Unicom began selling the iPhone in China two months ago.

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