Chinese officials are cracking down and blocking access to Apple's App Store

iPhone 6 problems
Apple’s dealings with the Chinese government have been fraught with turmoil, to put it lightly. China has targeted the iPhone maker in state-run media smear campaigns and it has repeatedly blocked access to Apple’s services and storefronts. Now, it is turning a skeptical eye on the Cupertino, California-based company’s App Store.

On Wednesday, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that authorities will “tighten up checks on software applications available in the Apple Store.” According to Xinhua, Apple has been approached by the Beijing offices of three Chinese agencies, including the Cyberspace Administration of China, public security officials, and a cultural law enforcement group.

The article did not elaborate, but the investigation appears to focus on third-party apps available in China’s app store — specifically those that offer live content forbidden by Chinese law, like pornography. Earlier in April, authorities told three Chinese websites to tighten their oversight of online information, live-streaming services, and online performance.

It is part of a broader crackdown on digital goods and services in the country. In January, China’s Cyberspace Administration required that all app stores register with the government, and it recently enacted a bill — the Cyber Security Law — that prevents apps from “endanger[ing] national security” or “disrupt[ing] the social order” (Apple pulled the law’s first victim, the New York Times‘ app, from the Chinese App Store in 2016).

Apple’s business dealings in the region have frequently run afoul of the country’s regulatory agencies. In 2014, following revelations that the U.S. National Security Agency surveilled Chinese leaders, China Central TV described the iPhone as a “national security concern.” Earlier in 2017, Chinese government regulators blocked access to Apple’s iBooks and iMovies within the country — reportedly out of concern for “security threats.”

That is bad news for Apple, which depends on China for about one-fifth of its revenue.

But the company’s relationship with the government may be on the mend. CEO Tim Cook apologized following Chinese state media’s allegations of warranty fraud, publishing an open letter in which he promised to implement an “improved level of repair service” and a “clearer and more concise” policy. A series of meetings in May between Cook and “senior government and Communist Party leaders” was described as “productive” by a Reuters source.

It is a balancing act for both parties. Apple’s Chinese manufacturing operations are “directly or indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs,” according to eWeek. Apple, meanwhile, is eager to turn sales around in a market ripe for growth.

Emerging Tech

How emotion-tracking A.I. will change computing as we know it

Affectiva is just one of the startups working to create emotion-tracking A.I. that can work out how you're feeling. Here's why this could change the face of computing as we know it.

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

The Avalon V is Alcatel’s first Verizon-exclusive smartphone

Alcatel is has announced a new phone, the Avalon V -- but this budget device isn't what makes the announcement special. It's Alcatel's first phone on the Verizon network, and it's available now.

Big, beautiful, and breakable: Check out the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases

There’s no denying Samsung’s ability to turn out an attractive smartphone, but glass curves are expensive to fix and metal chips easily. We've rounded up the best Galaxy S8 Plus cases on the market.

Sidestep banking fees with the nationwide launch of T-Mobile Money

T-Mobile has launched its Money banking service nationwide in the U.S., and it offers an extremely tempting set of features for everyone, including industry-leading interest rates, a powerful app, and no banking fees.

The OnePlus 3 & 3T both receive an open beta for Android Pie

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

Charge and sync with the best Lightning cables for your iPhone or iPad

If you’re looking to replace a lightning cable, or in need of something a little longer or tougher, we’ve got you covered. Here are 10 of our favorite cables for the iPhone and other iOS devices.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for April 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Selfies are now banned at China’s gigantic Aperture Spherical Telescope

You can't take a selfie with the world's largest single-dish radio telescope anymore, as the Chinese government has banned everything from smartphones to digital cameras in the surrounding 5-kilometer area.

The dramatic BlackBerry Key2 Red Edition is now available in the U.S.

BlackBerry's Key2 is likely to be the best keyboard-equipped phone in 2019, with a modern look, some powerful specs, and totally revamped features. Here's everything you need to know about it.

Want to make calls across the internet for less? Try these great VOIP services

Voice over IP services are getting more and more popular, but there are still a few that stand above the pack. In this guide, we'll give you a few options for the best VOIP services for home and business users.

The Best iPhone 7 battery cases to give your phone some extra juice

The iPhone 7 doesn't have terrible battery life, but you never know when you'll need to juice up on the go. To help, here are the best iPhone 7 battery cases that can keep your smartphone charged and ready for long-term use.