Apple expressed concerns to Chinese officials over foreign app restrictions, report says

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Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers remarks during an Apple special event on September 12, 2023 in Cupertino, California. Apple is set to unveil the new iPhone 15 and Apple Watch. 
Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Apple expressed concern to Chinese officials in recent months over new rules that would ban unregistered foreign apps from its App Store, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

The new rules would prevent Apple from offering many of the apps that are currently available in the store in China. For instance, iPhone users often download and access apps like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and X through virtual private networks, or VPNs, despite the fact that China has blocked web access.

But two months ago, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced Apple and other distributors will have to stop offering these apps in the country by July. Chinese officials said they believe the policies will help reduce scams and the spread of information that violates its censorship rules, according to the report, while Apple is worried about how the new rules will impact users.

Apple has not shared anything about the new rules publicly, and the company did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

China is an important market for Apple and accounts for nearly 20% of the company’s revenue. The nation also serves as Apple’s major manufacturing hub. But the relationship is not without its challenges.

In early September, for instance, the Wall Street Journal reported that central government employees were ordered not to bring iPhones to the office or use them for work, but it was unclear how formal or wide-reaching any such order was. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country had not issued bans on the purchase or use of Apple’s iPhones.

Watch: China tightens leash on app stores, Apple yet to comply

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