China orders removal of New York Times app from Apple’s Chinese App Store

Express News Global

Published: January 06, 2017

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BEIJING, China – Global technology giant Apple has withdrawn the New York Times from its China App Store for violating unspecified local laws, on a request from Chinese authorities.

According to NYT, Apple removed both the English-language and Chinese-language apps from the App Store in China on December 23 without warning.

“We have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations,” said Apple spokesman Fred Sainz.

“As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store. When this situation changes, the App Store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China.”

While Apple hasn’t specified the exact regulations that were violated in the case or revealed which government agency made the request – NYT said Apple was asked to reconsider the decision.

“The request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by The New York Times of that country – coverage which is no different from the journalism we do about every other country in the world, including the United States,” Eileen Murphy, an NYT spokesperson, said in an emailed statement.

The paper also noted that other international news organizations were still live, suggesting that the paper was singularly targeted.

The NYT has faced a series of blows in China over the last few years.

Its Chinese and English language websites have both been blocked in the country for several years, and the company has struggled to obtain visas for new China-based reporters.

The New York Times said that it believes the request was probably made under Provisions on the Administration of Internet Application Informations Services regulations that were introduced in June 2016.

According to the regulations, apps are prevented from publishing prohibited information and “endangering national security, disrupting social order and violating the legitimate rights and interests of others.”

TechCrunch quoted a 2013 report to the Center for International Media Assistance that said, “China’s tactics for external censorship are a well-established pattern.”

Adding, “When the Chinese government lacks direct control over the means of news dissemination or the technical capacity to block content, economic “carrots and sticks” have helped co-opt foreign companies into hindering Chinese audiences’ access to the outlets’ content. For example, since September 2011, Apple has removed from its iPhone and iPad China store applications for iSun Affairs, NTDTV, and an overseas bookstore with works on Tibet, Xinjiang, and democracy. The only explanation, if any, that the app developers received from the tech giant was an unchallenged assertion that their content is “illegal” in China.”