Apple 'concerned' about China's new app store rules banning unregistered foreign apps

Tim Hardwick

Apple employees have been meeting with Chinese officials in recent months to discuss concerns about new rules that limit Apple from offering many of the foreign apps currently available on its Chinese App Store, according to a new Wall Street Journal report behind a paywall. .

China is already blocking the sites of many popular Western social networking applications such as Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp, but iPhone users in China can still download apps from the ‌App Store‌ if they are using an unauthorized VPN that connects them to an internet server outside the country. China has banned VPN services from the ‌App Store‌ in 2017.

The five social media apps listed above were downloaded from the ‌App Store‌ Apple company. Sensor Tower estimates more than 170 million times in China over the past decade.

According to the report, Chinese officials told Apple employees that the company must strictly enforce rules prohibiting unregistered foreign apps, thereby closing a loophole that allowed Chinese ‌iPhone‌ users can download them.

Under new rules issued in July by China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, Apple will no longer be able to offer such apps in its Chinese ‌App Store‌ from next July unless app operators are registered by the government. The new rules affect both foreign and domestic app distributors and are not aimed specifically at Apple.

Operators are unlikely to register with the Chinese government, however, as this would force them to comply with data transfer rules. and censorship requirements. Such a scenario would leave Apple with no choice but to cancel them or face legal penalties.

Investors are said to be concerned about how the new rules will affect profits from Apple's services, including the ‌App Store‌ transactions. Apple is also reportedly concerned about the challenges the company might face in implementing the rules, such as whether users in China who access foreign apps through overseas app stores will be able to continue to do so.

According to In recent discussions, Apple said the new rules are needed to combat online fraud, pornography and the dissemination of information that violates Chinese censorship rules.

China recently banned government officials from using iPhones and other foreign smartphones for work or bringing such devices to their government agencies, and earlier this month the ban was extended to several government agencies and state-owned companies, underscoring China's new efforts to block foreign technology.

China is an important market for Apple, with the region accounting for about a fifth part of its sales. Much of Apple's manufacturing base remains in the country, despite the company's efforts in recent years to diversify its supply chain into places like Vietnam and India.

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