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Apple removes New York Times app from its Chinese app store

By Sam Edem

Following a series of compromises to the access or remain in the vast market of communist China, the US technology giant, Apple has pulled out the New York Times from its China App Store, in accordance with a request from the Chinese government.

The newspaper giant in reaction said, move was aimed at preventing readers in China "from accessing independent news coverage".

Apple disclosed that they had been informed by the authorities that the app violated Chinese regulations but did not specify what rules had been broken.

Western media have persistently been harassed over making their content available in China with several of them frequently or permanently blocked.

According to the New York Times, Apple on 23rd December last year removed both English-language and Chinese-language apps of the paper from its Chinese app store.

The paper cited an Apple spokesperson as saying the firm had been "informed that the app is in violation of local regulations" which in effect meant it had to be taken down. The Apple spokesman said, "When this situation changes, the app store will once again offer the New York Times app for download in China". The paper further noted that they had asked Apple to reconsider the decision.

New York Times’ website has been blocked in China since 2012 after it ran a number of reports on the private wealth of Chinese political elites and their families.

The New York Times links the request to pull its news app to new regulations officially designed to curb activities "such as endangering national security, disrupting social order and violating the legitimate rights and interests of others".

In the words of spokeswoman Eileen Murphy, "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".

Users with accounts registered on an App Store other than the Chinese one can still download the apps and those from other international media outlets are still accessible, including the BBC News, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, CNN, Reuters and ABC News.  However, the BBC’s Chinese-language website is blocked while the English version often has some human rights or political stories blocked on both the website and the app.

Other Western websites like Google, YouTube and Facebook are blocked in China and just recently, Facebook offered the Chinese authorities a censor tool deal to break the deadlock.