(Repeats to additional subscribers)
* English, Chinese versions pulled on Dec. 23 -NYT
* Newspaper's website blocked since 2012 -NYT
* Regulator has called for greater media scrutiny
By Cate Cadell and Aishwarya Venugopal
BEIJING, Jan 5 Apple Inc has removed
the New York Times Co's English- and Chinese-language
news apps from its iTunes store in China following a request
from the local authorities, the companies said separately on
The apps, which the newspaper said were removed on Dec. 23,
are the latest Western services to fall foul of Chinese
authorities, whose other scalps include Apple's own iBooks and
iTunes Movies stores which have been blocked since April.
Their removal comes just over a month after the Cyberspace
Administration of China called for greater media scrutiny,
citing fears of social disorder, moral harm and threats to
national security. The internet regulator did not respond to a
faxed request for comment about the Times' apps.
"The development of the internet in China must respect
China's laws and regulations, in principle," foreign ministry
spokesman Geng Shuang said in response to a question about the
New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told Reuters that
the newspaper has asked Apple to reconsider.
"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," Murphy said.
The government has blocked the Times' websites since 2012
after a series of articles on the wealth of the family of
then-Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, the New York Times reported.
"We have been informed that the app is in violation of local
regulations," Apple spokesman Fred Sainz in California told
An Apple spokeswoman in China declined to comment on
specific reasons or which regulatory body made the request.
Apple has previously removed news apps from its China app
store, but none as high-profile as the New York Times. At least
three other apps have been removed from the app store in recent
years on the grounds of "illegal content", according to news
reports and the apps' developers.
Apps from other international publications whose websites
are blocked, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the
Financial Times, were still available on Thursday.
Chinese mainstream media has not reported the app removal
but it was discussed widely on social media.
"This must be coming from the request of The Wall right?"
said one user on microblogging service Weibo, referring to
state-backed internet censorship. "Apple has made enough money
in China, it's OK for it to take the blame this time for the
sake of the money."
Other users said they would attempt to change their country
of residence within the app store to restore access.
While the New York Times' websites have been blocked,
mirroring sites managed by anti-censorship advocates have
periodically made their content available.
(Reporting by Cate Cadell and Aishwarya Venugopal; Additional
Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and