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Apple suffers China setback as authorities block iTunes movie and book sales

Apple users in China can no longer download movies and books from the iTunes store after the authorities in recent days shut down the services.

The move comes six months after Apple launched the online store in the Communist nation. Music sales via the store are thought to be unaffected at the current time.

A Chinese regulator that deals with the media “asserted its authority and demanded the closings,” the New York Times reported after speaking to two people with knowledge of the matter.

It’s not clear why it’s taken the decision now, though in its report the Times notes, “Capture too much market share or wield too much influence, and Beijing will push back.”

Apple will undoubtedly be alarmed by China’s decision to take much of its iTunes store offline, fearing further restrictions could be on the way. Compared to many big Western tech firms, Apple has, through careful negotiations, done well to expand into China. Its business was given a huge boost back in 2013 when it inked a deal with China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier, while more recently Apple Pay launched in the country, helping it to expand its presence even further.

Asked to comment on Beijing’s decision to pull the plug on sections of its iTunes store, a spokesperson for the Cupertino company said simply, “We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible.”

The news of the clampdown on Apple’s online services comes soon after Chinese censors flipped the switch on blogging service Medium. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and many Google services have long been blocked in the country, though the nation’s so-called Great Firewall of China can in many cases be sidestepped by determined Internet users.

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