Apple has removed apps from The New York Times from its app store in China, after “what it said was a request from the Chinese authorities,” according to the Times itself.
Apple took down both English and Chinese-language apps from China’s iTunes store on December 23, the Times said.
According to app analytics company Sensor Tower, China was the app’s second largest market after the US.
Apps from other publications like The Wall Street Journal and FT haven’t been banned. It’s worth noting that China began blocking the Times’ websites in 2012, “after a series of articles on the wealth amassed by the family of Wen Jiabao, who was then prime minister,” the Times said.
“We have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations,” Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, told The Times. “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.”
“China didn’t say why they wanted the NYT app pulled and Apple wouldn’t say what law it was complying with,” the Times’ Katie Benner, who reported the story, wrote on Twitter.
She also pointed to this piece, which the Times published the day before its apps were taken down (though neither Apple nor China cited it as a reason, and Benner said it could be unrelated):
The day before the NYT app was pulled from the App Store in China, the NYT pubbed this story. https://t.co/cZJAcrpYwR
— katie benner (@ktbenner) January 4, 2017
A Times spokesperson said the following:
“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.”
This isn’t the first time Apple has run into takedown issues in China. The company’s iBooks and iTunes Movies stores were shut down in China in April, less than six months after they launched in the country.