TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The tech-giant Apple has caved to demands from the Chinese Communist Party and deleted 25,000 apps from its online store in the country.
CCTV reported the news on Sunday, Aug. 19, after the company had been under criticism for several weeks by Communist authorities.
The official statement from Apple, reported by the Wall Street Journal, claims that the removal of applications has to do primarily with gambling, and applications which promote it.
"We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store,” read the statement made Monday, Aug. 20.
According to the report, Apple offers around 1.8 million apps in China, and 25,000 would represent 1.4 percent of the total. CCTV claimed that Apple was not doing enough to filter out “bogus lottery and gambling apps.”
However there is reason to suspect that more than “gambling apps” have been targeted, as Apple was also criticized by Chinese state-media for not policing its iMessage service up to the standards of the CCP, according to reports.
Bloomberg reports that only 4,000 of the 25,000 apps removed were tagged with the key word “gambling.”
There were also accusations by state-controlled media that Apple was permitting apps that were involved in the trafficking of counterfeit goods, and pornographic materials, reports the Wall Street Journal.
There has been speculation in recent weeks, that Apple may be targeted by Beijing for retaliation in the ongoing U.S.-China trade war. Apple is seen as at risk in the conflict, because nearly half of all iphones produced are manufactured in Central China’s Zhengzhou, and China is a crucial market for the company.
Earlier in August, People’s Daily published an article which essentially amounted to the threat that a portion of Apple’s profits in China might be seized by the Communist Party. A Fortune article recognized that threatening U.S. companies with a large stake in Chinese markets may be an effective strategy to press companies to oppose the Trump administration’s trade policies.
Apple is also the subject of public scrutiny in an ongoing debate over free speech in the United States. Another tech giant, Google, was recently discovered to be developing a suite of applications called "dragonfly" that will conform with CCP censorship requirements.
The tech companies are also currently at the center of a debate regarding free-speech and censorship within the United States. It is likely both companies find themselves in an awkward position with regard to their political links and potentially imperiled economic interests in China.