When tensions escalate between the US and China, Apple ‘s Chinese operations — including millions of Apple buyers and a substantial portion of the company’s production operations — could be at risk. A new article in The Information suggests that China is now increasingly closing the loopholes that Apple has abused in previous years, beginning with the latest withdrawal of thousands of devices from the Chinese App Store. It might theoretically contribute to problems for the future of Apple’s business in the region.
Apple removed more than 47,000 mobile apps from the Chinese App Store earlier this month, as first stated by AppInChina. This decision wasn’t surprising, as Apple recently implemented a regulatory reform to close the backdoor that previously enabled games and in-app purchases to be offered even though they were still pending approval from Chinese regulators.
This wasn’t the first occasion that Apple had been aggressively moving to bring major improvements to its offerings in China. For starters, in April 2016, Chinese regulators pressured Apple to shut down iBookstore and iTunes Movies in China, only six months after Apple opened those stores in the region.
Yet Apple ‘s entire App Store service in China still relies on its own exploit, according to the study. International app stores in China are typically expected to be joint projects with a Chinese investor who is the primary owner and operator, according to the article, however Apple runs the App Store on its own. Apple has always evidently refrained sharing the iOS source code with China so far, having secured an agreement with the Chinese government in order not to have to do so.
Recently, the Trump administration has taken drastic steps against Chinese software firms, rendering it increasingly challenging for them to do business in the US. President Trump signed executive orders earlier this month to bar TikTok and WeChat, owned by Chinese internet companies ByteDance and Tencent, from the US. Trump’s administration has also increased controls on Chinese handset manufacturer Huawei.