Amazon founder and Washington Post owner, Jeff Bezos, said Monday night that China did not “gain leverage” over censorship on Twitter after Elon Musk, who has business ties in that country, purchased the entire company.
Mark Forsythe, a reporter for The New York Times, wrote via Twitter that China represents the second-largest market for Tesla, Musk’s electric vehicle company, and that the Chinese government had lost influence over Twitter since it banned the platform in 2009. The journalist then suggested that might change now that Musk took control.
“Interesting question: Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” tweeted Bezos in response to Forsythe’s tweet.
“My own answer to this question is probably not,” the Amazon mogul continued in a thread. “The more likely outcome in this regard is complexity in China for Tesla, rather than censorship at Twitter.”
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The relationship between Jeff Bezos and China
According to a Reuters special report published in December 2021, Amazon decided to collaborate with “China propaganda arm” to market Xi Jinping’s texts and speeches and prevent negative comments and reviews from Chinese customers, after the Communist Party issued a decree that Bezos had to abide by.
As stated by Reuters, Amazon was selling a collection of Xi Jinping’s texts when Beijing demanded to disable its rating and commenting function after a negative review was posted.
Currently, Amazon’s Chinese website continues to sell the Communist Party book, which has no negative reviews and does not allow comments to be posted.
The Reuters report revealed “how the company has survived and thrived in China by helping to further the ruling of the Communist Party’s global economic and political agenda.”
In fact, according to the report, an internal Amazon document to which Reuters had access revealed that the company has had trouble selling products in China, and has decided to obey the demands of the Communist Party in order to be able to penetrate the huge market that the Asian giant represents.
“Ideological control and propaganda is the core of the toolkit for the communist party to achieve and maintain its success,” the document quoted by Reuters said. “We are not making judgement on whether it is right or wrong.”
In response, according to the document, Amazon teamed up with the Communist Party to create a special portal dedicated to selling books written, compiled, edited and published by the government.
The portal, called China Books, offers more than 90,000 publications and, although most are apolitical in content, those that do take a political stance are in favor of the China Communist Party.
Among the texts available on Amazon’s China Books there is one entitled ‘Incredible Xinjiang: Stories of Passion and Heritage‘, which describes a peaceful life in the city of Xinjiang, where ethnicity is “not a problem.” One of only two reviews available on the English-language site reads: “This is pure propaganda.”
Xinjiang, known in English as Sinkiang, is the epicenter of the genocide against the Uyghurs. Organizations such as Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have denounced terrible human rights violations in the concentration camps where more than one million Muslims are forced into labor.
In response to Reuters’ questioning, Amazon pointed out that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations, wherever we operate, and China is no exception.” Regarding book sales the company added that “providing access to the written word and diverse perspectives is important. That includes books that some may find objectionable.”