State-controlled China Central Television said Apple pulled 25,000 apps on Sunday that were deemed unlawful, according to the Wall Street Journal. The removals come after a recent CCTV segment said Apple had allowed banned gambling and lottery apps to proliferate in the App Store, including the spread of misleading app reviews, the report said.
As one of the few American tech giants with a major presence in China, Apple has previously complied with restrictive government rules aimed at Internet users. The company pulled apps that provided virtual private networks, or VPNs, from its China App Store last year, after the government imposed new rules designed to fortify its online censorship regime. VPNs allowed users to bypass China’s surveillance and censorship infrastructure, known as the “Great Firewall,” by making it look as if they were browsing the Web from another country.
The Chinese market accounts for about one-fifth of Apple’s total revenue. Despite the government’s authoritarian policies, China’s booming population of Web users has continued to attract U.S. tech platforms. Google, which left the country in 2010 over censorship concerns, has begun exploring plans to return with a search app that complies with the government’s oppressive speech restrictions. Facebook also has attempted to reestablish its presence in China. The company recently obtained a license to open a $30 million subsidiary there as a start-up incubator investing in small businesses.