• A billboard showing Apple phones is seen at an Apple Store in Beijing, China.

A billboard showing Apple phones is seen at an Apple Store in Beijing, China. (Photo : Getty Images)

Apple has been accused of pulling ads from Australian-Chinese media companies that are not friendly toward Beijing. The Apple accusation came after the company removed U.S. news apps from its app store in China last December at the request of the Chinese government.

Maree Ma, the general manager of The Vision China Times, said that the paper hasn't been accepting Apple's products to be featured in advertisements by major telecommunication companies since Oct. 2015. The last advertisement of the paper was iPhone ads for the iPhone 6s

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Ma said: "The last time we had iPhone ads from Telstra was in October 2015. Since then, when Telstra runs their iPhone ads, they do not place any with our paper. There was a campaign last year in 2016 we missed out on."

“Since Apple’s products still appear in Beijing-aligned or PRC government influenced Australian-Chinese media, we believe we have been ‘blacklisted’ by Apple for political reasons as they are trying to protect their business in China,” she added.

"The paper was independent, not anti-China and not aligned to known critics of China such as the Falun Gong," said the editor-in-chief of The Vision China Times, Yan Xia.

The Epoch Times, an independent, global news source headquartered in New York, aligned to the Falun Gong, as it regularly criticizes the Chinese government. The paper had an offer back in Oct. 2015 where they were contracted by huge telcos such as Telstra to place ads for the iPhone 6s.

A spokesman for the Epoch Times cleared this and said that the deal never came through. The spokesman stated: “We have never had issues with Telstra. But then at the last minute, they had to pull out then we asked why. (Our advertising agent) said it’s actually from Apple.”

According to John Fitzgerald, a professor at the Swinburne University who studies Chinese soft power, what they are doing right now is an evidence of China attempting to increase control of media in Australia.

He said: “In Hong Kong, we have seen accusations that Chinese government pressure forced two British banks to pull advertising from independent media outlet Apple Daily. I would not be surprised if advertisers doing business in China were considering where their products appeared considering Beijing’s strict media controls which now seem to extend to Australia."

Apple has declined to comment on these speculations as of writing.