News

In China, you can’t engrave over 1,000 words on Apple products…including characters for “human rights” & “8964”

Aug 19, 2021

In China, you can’t engrave over 1,000 words on Apple products…including characters for “human rights” & “8964”

The news: A new report from The Citizen Lab highlights the wide variety of words and phrases…and even a number…that you can’t engrave on Apple products in Mainland China.


  • “In mainland China, Apple widely censors political speech, including broad references such as 政治 (politics), 抵制 (resist), 民主潮 (wave of democracy), and 人权 (human rights). In mainland China, Apple also heavily censors references to Tibet and Tibetan religion. Such keywords include 正法 (dharma), 達賴 (Dalai), and 达兰萨拉 (Dharamshala). Such heavy-handed censorship restricts users’ abilities to freely express themselves politically and religiously” says The Citizen Lab
  • This one number, 8964, is also banned, as it refers to the infamous 1989 Tiananmen Square protests
  • The same report also heights that nearly 20% of Apple’s total revenue comes from the Mainland China market

Our take: Operating in China is simply a catch-22. But what’s odd is that Apple has censored more than what is necessary to operate there. In response, Apple replied here, saying “We handle engraving requests regionally. There is no single global list that contains one set of words or phrases. Instead, these decisions are made through a review process where our teams assess local laws as well as their assessment of cultural sensitivities. We revisit these decisions from time to time. While those teams rely on information from a range of sources, no third parties or government agencies have been involved the process.”