In late December, Apple removed both the English-language and Chinese-language news apps created by The New York Times from its app store in China. Apps from other international publications, including the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, are still available in the store. The New York Times has voiced strong objections and asked Apple to reconsider its decision.
Meanwhile, the newspaper lashed out at China regarding freedom of the press. Since 2012, The New York Times has been one of the Western media outlets that has taken the lead in doing so-called investigative reports and churning out sensational stories about sensitive topics in China, trying to wield influence in China's internal affairs and play a special political role.
Managing information in the Internet era is a challenge that all the countries need to face. In late December, outgoing US President Barack Obama signed an anti-propaganda act into law. The State Department will also establish an anti-propaganda center later this year which is designed to help the US "counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations."
Greater China contributed nearly one-fifth of Apple's revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016, while Apple faces tough competition from local Chinese smartphone brands. It cares most about business, so it is willing to respect Chinese laws.
Some Western media overestimate their status and values. As information channels flourish in the Internet era, the influence of traditional media has been weakening. If The New York Times does not adapt to the changing environment and continues to stir trouble in China as a way to increase its value, its market and clout will get narrower.
The US tops the world in terms of its soft power of opinions. While Congress and the White House have paid particular attention to information security and are even concerned about being led by the nose by "false information" from Moscow and Beijing, how should Beijing not keep alert about rabid ideological organs like The New York Times?
China cannot do anything about The New York Times if it makes up stories outside China. But it is another situation if it is the Chinese market. China is sincere in opening itself up but the prerequisite is to ensure its political security. The Western media should not question China if it is to close its doors by scrutinizing one particular issue.
It is the West that fears opening-up and is embracing isolationism now. The rude opposition to globalization by US President-elect Donald Trump
are the very examples. Apple's removal of The New York Times apps is not worth mentioning.
The Chinese people have a favorable impression of mainstream Western media. If these media get involved in the complicated process of China's rise in a proper way rather than taking a hostile mentality toward China, they will be accepted. This way of engagement can benefit China, and those media can expand their interest from the process.