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Report: China told Amazon to delete negative reviews of Xi Jinping's book, and the company complied
FRED DUFOUR/AFP via Getty Images

Report: China told Amazon to delete negative reviews of Xi Jinping's book, and the company complied

As part of a larger effort to win favor with China's communist government and expand its business, Amazon complied with the Communist Party's requests to delete negative comments and reviews of dictator Xi Jinping's book.

A report by Reuters detailed for the first time how ratings, comments, and reviews were removed from the listing of Xi's "the Governance of China," a collection of his speeches and writings, on Amazon's Chinese website in 2018. The demand for censorship was prompted by negative reviews of Xi's book on Amazon's five-star rating system, according to sources who spoke to Reuters.

"I think the issue was anything under five stars," one of the sources said.

Amazon complied with the Chinese government's edict, and Reuters reports that today comments, ratings, and reviews remain disabled on Amazon's Chinese site, Amazon.cn.

It's yet another example of U.S. companies bending over backward to please Chinese tyrants in order to make money.

Reuters reported 2018 internal documents from Amazon that outlined the company's strategy for engaging with the Chinese government in order to sell more of its Kindle e-book readers and cloud computing services in China.

The document reportedly acknowledged, "Ideological control and propaganda is the core of the toolkit for the communist party to achieve and maintain its success."

"We are not making judgement on whether it is right or wrong," the company said, according to Reuters.

A "core element" of Amazon's strategy to appease Chinese propagandists was to create a selling portal on the company's U.S. site, Amazon.com, called China Books. The books sold on that webpage include many apolitical titles like Chinese language textbooks, cookbooks, and children's bedtime stories. But Reuters notes Amazon also sells propaganda that extols the virtues of China while covering up the brutal human rights abuses of Uyghurs in the country's Xinjiang region.

The 2018 briefing document was prepared for Jay Carney, the current global head of Amazon's lobbying and public policy operations and former White House press secretary during the Obama administration. It describes "the Chinabooks project" as a "key element to safeguard" against problems obtaining licenses to sell e-books on Kindle in China.

Amazon is also invested in expanding Amazon Web Services in China, a cloud computing service many foreign companies use to export goods and services abroad.

Reuters reported that AWS has become one of the largest providers to Chinese companies globally. The 2018 briefing document prepared for Carney indicated the company was receiving an "increasing number of requests from (Chinese) watchdogs to take down certain content, mostly politically sensitive ones."

Amazon has reportedly pushed back on some censorship demands. The company refused a request from the CCP to remove content and block a website hosted in the United States for Chinese dissident Guo Wengui.

In a statement, the e-commerce corporation told Reuters it "complies with all applicable laws and regulations, wherever we operate, and China is no exception."

The company added: "As a bookseller, we believe that providing access to the written word and diverse perspectives is important. That includes books that some may find objectionable."

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