Apple has reportedly removed VPN apps from its store in China. Virtual private networks (VPNs) could enable users to access China’s uncensored Internet.
The Associated Press cited companies that create the apps, many of whom complained that their programs had been taken off the Chinese version of the Apple App Store. ExpressVPN, one of the companies recently kicked out of the App Store, received a message from the company — which it posted on its corporate site — that said the ExpressVPN offering was not legal in China. And it wasn’t the only company to receive such a message — ExpressVPN told the AP that all main VPN apps in China were removed from the Apple App Store.
ExpressVPN blasted Apple saying it was “aiding China’s censorship effort,” reported the AP. Fellow VPN app creator Star VPN told the newswire it also received a message from Apple that its app was being removed from the online store.
In a statement, Apple noted China had begun requiring VPN app developers to have a license, which is why it needed to remove the apps. The new regulation came into effect earlier this year.
The move by Apple to remove the VPN apps comes at a time when it is trying to draw more customers to its iPhones, apps and services. Earlier this month, a report surfaced that Apple Pay was hosting a promotion in China, marking its largest marketing effort since launching the payment method nearly a year and a half ago.
According to a report detailing the news, the Cupertino, California-based technology company is offering Chinese consumers discounts of up to 50 percent — and points rewards of up to fifty times the normal number — for using the service at approximately 28 retailers in China and 16 online stores. China has been the toughest market for Apple to crack, by far, largely because there are already established players in the country.
The AP news report cited data from research firm Analysys which found the mobile payment market in China is led by Alibaba’s AliPay and Tencent’s WeChat. Alipay commands 53.7 percent of the market and WeChat controls 39.5 percent as of the first quarter of this year.