Apple’s App Store in China will no longer have The New York Times’ app available on it. The English and Chinese language versions of the app have been removed after a request from Chinese authorities.

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Photo by Szilveszter Farkas

Apple following Beijing’s command

The removal of the apps further curtails access to the Times in China. In mainland China, the New York Times Co.’s websites have been blocked since 2012 after it published a report detailing the wealth of China’s top leadership and their families.

The app has been barred from displaying content to Chinese users for some time now, and we have been told that it violates 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.”

Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman in New York, said that the Times reached out to Apple asking it to reconsider its decision.

“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, including the United States,” Murphy said.

Apple also removed some other less prominent media apps from its China store. It is unclear how Apple evaluates the requests it receives from Beijing to take down apps or if it ever resists them or not.

Stringent control on the Internet

China is very strict toward companies and digital sites that spread rumors, harm national security or promote illegal services such as drug peddling. China’s main Internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration, gave no reply when the WSJ reached out for comment.

The NYT’s coverage in China is similar to the journalism it does in every other country in the world. It appears as if the request has been made under regulations called the Provisions on the Administration of Mobile Internet Application Information Services, notes the NY Times. These regulations were released in June 2016.

The regulations say that 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.” In addition, the cyberspace administration states on its website that apps cannot publish “prohibited” information.