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Amazon stopped users from leaving negative reviews of Xi Jinping books

Some details of how Amazon does its business in China have emerged, painting a picture of the US company, a global giant, prepared to fall in line with Beijing’s highly restrictive internet rules.

Two years ago, when it came time to promote a collection of Xi’s book of speeches published by the Chinese government on, the country’s authorities demanded that customers should not be allowed to leave any reviews or ratings.

Even though the 5-star rating system and reviews are an integral part of the way Amazon conducts its ecommerce business elsewhere, in this case the company was cowed by Beijing and turned off the section.

According to two sources quoted by Reuters, the issue was allowing any less than five-star rating to appear under the book of Xi’s musings.

Apparently the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Amazon is prepared to do and keeps doing in order to hold on to the huge market, this example leads to the giant’s overall policy outlined in 2018 in ab internal document, which deals with “core issues” it is encountering while attempting to continue making its “Chinese dream” come true.

That briefing document, and interviews with more than two dozen people who have been involved in Amazon's China operation, reveal how the company has survived and thrived in China by helping to further the ruling Communist Party's global economic and political agenda, while at times pushing back on some government demands.

In a core element of this strategy, the internal document and interviews show, Amazon partnered with an arm of China's propaganda apparatus to create a selling portal on the company's U.S. site, – a project that came to be known as China Books. The venture – which eventually offered more than 90,000 publications for sale – hasn't generated significant revenue. But the document shows that it was seen by Amazon as crucial to winning support in China as the company grew its Kindle electronic-book device, cloud-computing and e-commerce businesses.

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: " books project has also gained wide recognition among Chinese regulators."

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