Late last month, Apple eliminated any news app created by the New York Times from the Chinese app store. The company listened to a request from the Chinese authorities to do so. It all began in 2012 when the government started blocking the New York Times website. They did this because of an article which they published and which talked about the massive fortune that the then-head of state, Wen Jiabao and his family had.
News apps completely removed
Apple removed both the English and Chinese versions of the news app back on December 23. This measure only affected the New York Times, because other news apps like the Wall Street Journal are still up on the Chinese app store. Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, confirmed the news and said that they were announced that the app was violating state regulations. This is also why it has been blocked for some years. In conclusion, Apple took off the app from the Chinese app store. Sainz mentioned that when or if the situation changes, the New York Times news app will be brought back for the Chinese people.
However, neither Sainz or the Cyberspace Administration of China offered more details regarding the situation. Apple did not say who had contacted them to say that they needed to take down the app. Also, Sainz did not mention what regulations was the app violating. However, the request seems to be linked to some 2016 regulations which say that a publication cannot publish “prohibited” information. Moreover, that it cannot endanger national security or the rights of others. It is unclear what does this “prohibited” information mean, but probably the people of China did not need to know about their ruler’s huge fortune.
Media controlled by the government
It is a known fact that the Chinese government controls the media in the country. Especially the ruling Communist Party. China actually possesses one of the most complex systems of Internet censorship in the world. However, this is not the first time Apple has removed apps from the Chinese app store. They were smaller, not as important apps, but still they were taken down. This leads us to believe that the government does not fool around with the rules. It is uncertain if Apple ever resists to those requests from Beijing or if the company just listens and removes them blindly.
It is interesting that a few weeks after the New York Times app was taken down, the newspaper released a series of China-oriented articles. China is still one of Apple’s biggest markets even if recently, the sales have gone down a bit. One such article talked about a very anti-Western video which the Chinese security offices promoted in the whole country.
The fact that Apple removed the app from the store should not bother those who have already installed it on their smartphones. However, if they would want to download new content, they would have to use another country’s app store. There is one way in which users can easily bypass the firewall of the Chinese government: a specially created software.
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