Apple removes 25,000 apps from App Store in China

Recently, a report surfaced online suggesting that Apple removed 25, 000 apps from the App Store in China.

This is after the company drew criticism from state media in China for not doing more to deal with apps for services that are illegal in the country - such as gambling.

"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.

The company said, "In order to reduce fraudulent activity on the App Store and comply with government requests to address illegal online gambling activity, we are no longer allowing gambling apps submitted by individual developers". According to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, there are over 1.8 million apps in the country's App Store.

App stores run by other companies, including Baidu Inc (BIDU.O) and Tencent Holdings Ltd (0700.HK), are also required to remove banned foreign content and gambling apps.

In an earlier report on July 31, CCTV interviewed an iPhone user surnamed Mou who claimed to have lost 120,000 yuan (US$17,451) from using a lottery app downloaded from Apple's App Store.

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Per Reuters, Apple confirmed that it has recently removed the apps, without giving out a number or the timeline for the removals.

Apple also upset rights groups past year when it restricted its Chinese customers' access to Virtual Private Networks, which allow users to circumvent China's Great Firewall and to access blocked websites such as Facebook, Twitter and The New York Times.

The network said that resulted in the proliferation of "bogus lottery apps and gambling apps".

China remains one of Apple's largest markets after the USA, but the company faces a constant battle to stay on the right side of regulators.

Apple's strong ties to China leaves it exposed should trade tensions ratchet up. Apple may also be treading lightly due to the escalating trade war between the United States and China and the possible implications it could have for the company's business in China. Messages sent through the iMessage service are encrypted, which means only the sender and the receiver can access it.

Appeared in the August 20, 2018, print edition as 'Apple Pulls Apps, Pressed by Beijing'.

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