Both the English-language and Chinese-language NYT apps were removed from Apple’s China store on December 23, 2016, the paper said on Wednesday.
“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 in the paper. “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.”
NYT said they had asked Apple to reconsider the decision and that Apple had declined to comment on what local regulations NYT apps were said to have violated.
The paper’s website has been blocked in China since 2012, after it published a series of articles on the private wealth of the Chinese political elite such as Wen Jiabao, who was then Prime Minister of the country. Other international publications such as CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times, have also had their websites blocked by Chinese regulators but their apps were still available in the China App store on Thursday.
The move comes as the country’s internet regulatory body Cyberspace Administration of China has called for greater media scrutiny, which claims apps cannot “engage in activities prohibited by laws and regulations such as endangering national security, disrupting social order and violating the legitimate rights and interests of others.”
NYT spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said: “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.”
China is one of Apple’s largest iPhone markets and, according to the NYT, the paper was working on various articles related to the Chinese government in the run-up to the withdrawal of the apps. Specifically, the paper said it had been preparing an article on the Chinese government’s hidden perks and subsidies provided to Foxconn, the Taiwan outfit that operates the Chinese iPhone factories.