Following an official request by Chinese government authorities, Apple has decided to remove the New York Times apps from online stores in China.
The decision was implemented on December 23 2016. As of now, people in China cannot read The Times online without resorting to third-party software.
Apple cleaned its app store of both the Chinese as well as the English-language app of the NY Times, an act the Chinese government had struggled to do for a while.
Why Chinese Prime Banned The New York Times
Former Chinese PM Wen Jiabao became particularly interested in preventing citizens of his country from reading the NY Times after the publication released a series of articles about Jiabao.
Back in 2012, the New York Times conducted an investigation on Jiabao and his family. It reportedly sheds light on the allegedly shady means by which they managed to climb up the financial ladder. According to the report, they quickly became one of China’s elites by signing some “aggressive deals.”
Needless to say, Jiabao was not keen on the masses finding out about the research. Hence, he called a ban on the NY Times. Other international publications such as The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal are still available on Apple’s app store.
China’s Media Censorship
Even though Apple announced the removal of the NY Times from its app store, it has refrained from mentioning the reason behind this action. It is also unclear as to whether legal proceedings were involved in the matter.
“The request by the Chinese authorities to remove our apps is part of their wider attempt to prevent readers in China from accessing independent news coverage by The New York Times of that country, coverage which is no different from the journalism we do about every other country in the world,” said Times spokesperson Eileen Murphy as reported by the New York Times.
Murphy added that even though they requested Apple to reconsider, the tech giant did not heed their plea.
This is one of the many instances of strict control exercised by the Chinese government on media within its borders. Any “harmful information,” online or otherwise, can be banned by Chinese officials without legal proceedings.