Seattle-based multinational e-commerce and technology giant Amazon has worked extensively to court favor with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including partnering with the Chinese government’s propaganda arm to sell communist books and propaganda to American citizens, Reuters reported today.
Apparently the desire to court favor with the CCP began to be displayed openly when the repressive regime asked Amazon to strip the star ratings, reviews and comments from a collection of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “speeches and writings” on the Chinese version of its website. Amazon complied with the order. This appears to have been in compliance with the guidance offered in a 2018 Amazon briefing that identified the CCP’s use of “ideological control and propaganda” as part of that regime’s “toolkit” to “achieve and maintain its success.”
Reuters reported that Amazon chose not to make a judgement on the CCP’s use of propaganda.
“We are not making judgement on whether it is right or wrong,” Amazon wrote in its briefing.
Amazon has since “partnered with an arm of China’s propaganda apparatus” to sell Chinese propaganda to American citizens via Amazon.com. According to Reuters, this project became known as “China Books,” and Amazon and its CCP-tied partner “eventually offered more than 90,000 publications for sale.”
Despite the fact that the CCP propaganda partnership “hasn’t generated significant revenue” for the Seattle-based multinational, Amazon apparently views the partnership as “crucial” in its greater effort to court favor with the Chinese government and eventually break into the coveted market.
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The 2018 briefing document spells out the strategic stakes of the China Books project for Jay Carney, the global head of Amazon’s lobbying and public-policy operations, ahead of a trip he took to Beijing. “Kindle has been operating in China in a policy grey area,” the document stated, and noted that Amazon was having difficulty obtaining a license to sell e-books in the country.
“The key element to safeguard” against its license problem with the Chinese government “is the Chinabooks project,” the document stated.
The document also noted: “Amazon.com/China books project has also gained wide recognition among Chinese regulators.”
Amazon believed it could use its unique ability to sell tens of thousands of Chinese propaganda items to American citizens to cultivate a better relationship with the repressive and genocidal regime.
The relationship, Reuters concludes, has apparently been profitable for Amazon.
Since its efforts to align itself with the communist regime began, the company’s web service – AWS – has grown exponentially in China.
Reuters noted, “In June, AWS announced it was expanding further in the country, ‘to support the demands of our growing customer base in China.’”
Among the Chinese companies or China-adjacent multinationals reliant on AWS are TikTok developer ByteDance, Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision, and multinationals including Nike, Samsung, and Phillips.
Meanwhile in the United States, Amazon has been linked to efforts to censor Republicans who are critical of China.
Earlier this year, when the alt tech social media site Parler became a haven for supporters of 45th President Donald Trump amid a social media crackdown.
As the website became filled with supporters President Trump, a notorious China hawk who coined the phrase “China Virus” early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the website abruptly lost its AWS hosting after January 6, and was left offline for months.
Apparently, the site’s conservative users had violated Amazon’s terms of service, and the platform’s refusal to swiftly ban them lead to Amazon’s decision to terminate its relationship with Parler.
The platform eventually sued to restore its hosting. That lawsuit was unsuccessful, but Parler ultimately went back online with the help of Epik, a pro-free speech domain registrar and hosting provider.
Meanwhile, Amazon continues to provide hosting to Twitter despite the website openly allowing violent content and pornography. Twitter is also being sued for allegedly allowing child pornography to exist on the website even after being informed of its presence.
On Joe Biden’s first day in the White House, Amazon made the unprecedented move of offering to help the incoming president distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. No such offer was made during President Trump’s administration.