Amazon reportedly took down reviews of Chinese president’s book after demands
Reuters reported that Amazon received an “edict” from Beijing. A person familiar with the edict said a negative review of Xi’s book prompted the bookseller to stop allowing any customer ratings and reviews in the country. Another person familiar with the story said, “I think the issue was anything under five stars.” The company also partners with the state-owned firm China International Book Trading Corp (CIBTC).
Volume three of Xi’s book was reportedly listed as a bestseller on China Books, an Amazon site created in partnership with an arm of the nation’s propaganda apparatus. Although the project flopped financially, a person who has been involved with it described China Books as “a high-level photo-op.”
Despite its bestseller status, volume three of Xi’s book recently showed a sales rank of 1,347,071 while another purported bestseller on COVID-19 ranked 10,654,483.
Another book reportedly extols life in Xinjiang, the site of Uyghur persecution that the United States has designated a genocide.
Amazon.com offers Xi’s book, “The Governance of China,” with reviews from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and HuffPost.
“I’ve also bought copies of this book for my colleagues,” Zuckerberg said. “I want them to understand socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
Another from BBC: “Certainly [President Xi] is working hard at being the confident father to the nation, developing an image which is much less constrained and technocratic than his immediate predecessors.”
Amazon has indicated it seeks to be neutral on potentially problematic content. According to Reuters, a 2018 internal briefing showed the company noting “Ideological control and propaganda is the core of the toolkit for the communist party to achieve and maintain its success.”
The document added: “We are not making judgement on whether it is right or wrong.”
“As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to the written word and diverse perspectives is important,” an Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business Wednesday. “That includes books that some may find objectionable, though we have policies governing which books can be listed for sale in every country and jurisdiction in which we operate.”
The spokesperson maintained that Amazon’s “relationship with CIBTC is entirely appropriate.” CIBTC reportedly described their partnering as a “commercial relationship between two enterprises.”
Last week’s report raises questions about how tech giants like Amazon regulate content on a country-by-country basis. Twitter, for example, has encountered criticism for censoring former President Trump’s tweets but allowing certain posts from Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei.
Amazon also faced backlash earlier this year when it delisted conservative author Ryan T. Anderson’s book, “When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.” The book was published in 2018 and reached the top of the site’s bestseller lists.
“We carefully consider the content we make available in our stores, and we review our approach regularly,” Amazon said, responding to a question from senators about why the book had originally been allowed on the site. “As described above, we have chosen not to sell books that frame LGBTQ+ identity as a mental illness.”