Chinese authorities have blocked Apple's iTunes Music Store, apparently because 'more than 40' athletes have listened to protest songs by bands such as Rush and Alanis Morissette.
The US Tibetan activist group The Art of Peace Foundation invited Olympic athletes to download the album 'Songs for Tibet' free of charge. The Foundation claimed that this mark of protest would communicate that "compassion and non-violence can overcome intolerance and oppression - beautiful ideals to be associated with the Olympic spirit".
On Monday iTunes stopped working in China - apparently another example of the so-called "Great Firewall of China". The size of the Chinese internet police is estimated at more than 30,000.
The Chinese government's Information Office reported that "angry netizens" were "rallying together to denounce Apple in offering 'Songs for Tibet' for purchase".
But Kate Saunders, of the International Campaign for Tibet, told Australian newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald: "The predictably hostile response to the album from Chinese internet users, as reported by an official Chinese media outlet, reflects continued attempts to suppress any support for Tibet at a time of crisis for the Tibetan people, as well as the level of entrenched misinformation about Tibet propagated by the Beijing government among the Chinese public.”
The newspaper also reports a response from Apple claimed by a local blogger. She claims that Apple's customer support sent her the following message: "iTunes is not being blocked in China from our end, but access to the iTunes Store is restricted in some areas in China.”
“Please also note though that accessing the US iTunes Store outside of the geographic region of the United States is not supported, and that attempting to access it while in China is at your own risk."
Last month Apple opened its first Chinese retail store, and is negotiating deals with Chinese mobile phone operators for a possible release of its iPhone 3G.
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