Following a request made by the Chinese government, Apple has agreed to remove the New York Times from its Chinese App Store.
Apple spokesman Fred Sainz said that the company had been informed that the NYT app was “in violation of local regulations,” though he declined to explain what rules exactly had been broken. “When this situation changes, the App Store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China,” Sainz added.
This comes as yet another blow for the New York Times in China. The paper’s website was blocked in China in 2012 after it published a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation into the vast amounts of wealth accumulated by China’s former premier Wen Jiabao. The fallout from that piece led to a lengthy visa freeze for NYT and other foreign journalists with Beijing-based corespondent Austin Ramzy being forced to leave the country in 2014.
Rather than abandon the Chinese market after being stuck behind the Great Firewall, the paper has tried hard to reach users by circumventing censors, using mirror sites, social media and apps to spread their stories.
Now, China seems intent on plugging up at least one of those leaks.
“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,” the paper’s spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.
The NYT is asking Apple to reconsider its decision as well as asking for a better explanation.
Apple severs a bridge to our most avid and critical readers for China news — our Chinese readers. Doesn't Apple owe them an explanation? https://t.co/Hg8yiXOgiN
— Chris Buckley 储百亮 (@ChuBailiang) January 5, 2017
Of course, Apple has faced its own censorship problems in China. Back in April, the company’s iTunes Movies and iBooks services were blocked without explanation. Meanwhile, its flagship iPhone sales have been slipping in the country and Beijing-based leather goods manufacturer even won the right in court to use the label “IPHONE” on their wallets and purses.
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