Apple Removes Thousands Of Apps From China App Store

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Cost of doing business? ‘Illegal’ lottery and gambling apps the latest to be purged from Apple’s China App Store

Apple has reportedly removed illegal lottery apps from its App Store in China after criticism from state media outlets.

Local media suggested that Apple has recently pulled around 25,000 apps from its Chinese store, in an effort to co-operate with Chinese regulators.

And this is not the first time this has happened. Last year Apple removed hundreds of VPN apps from the China App Store, including ExpressVPN, VyprVPN and StarVPN, saying they breached local laws. ExpressVPN responded by accusing Apple of ‘siding with censorship’.

chinese apple store beijing china iphone ipad © testing Shutterstock

App removal

The latest app purge came after Chinese state broadcaster CCTV criticised Apple’s management on Sunday for allowing gambling apps, which are banned in China.

It was the second time the broadcaster has targeted the firm in the past month over the apps, according to Reuters.

Apple has also been recently criticised by state media over its iMessage service in China, saying the company’s refusal to monitor communications is a hindrance to authorities.

Apple’s App Store is the only major foreign-run app platform in China, and is said to currently offer more than 1.8 million apps to that country.

However the Google Play store is banned in China, as are most Google services.

Apple confirmed it had removed the gambling apps from its store in a statement to Reuters, but did not confirm the number of apps it had purged.

“We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” Apple said in a statement.

Chinese censorship

Last year Apple announced plans to build two research and development (R&D) centres in China, in addition to its two existing data centres in China.

Apple also earlier this year reportedly moved cryptographic keys for its iCloud service to China under that country’ new legal requirements.

Apple has also reportedly removed Skype from its Chinese app store.

China is known for its ‘Great Chinese Firewall,’ a phrase coined because of the country’s strict online surveillance regulations that saw the adoption of a controversial cyber security law that gives the government even more control over the internet in that country.

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