Apple has removed all New York Times news apps from its app store in China following a request from Chinese authorities.
The government began blocking NYT websites in 2012 following an article series focusing on the then-prime minister Wen Jiabao’s collected family wealth. However, in recent months, readers have increasingly been using the Chinese-language app, with some using special software to get around the new limitations.
The apps were removed from the store on 23 December in both English and Chinese.
“For some time now, the New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and 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.”
According to rules published by China’s Cyberspace Administration in 2016, apps are banned from “publishing or disseminating prohibited information or content”.
China operates the largest internet censorship regime in the world, blocking digital brands including Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Last year, Apple had a run-in with the US government when it attempted to force the company to unlock the iPhone of a suspected terrorist, with company chief executive Tim Cook responding that complying would set a “dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties”.
China is Apple’s third largest market, generating revenues of $8.8bn in Q4, just behind Europe. In May 2016, Cook announced a $1bn investment in the Chinese version of Uber, followed by its first research and development centre in Bejing in October.