The Chinese government has intensified massive internet censorship on religious content by asking Apple to remove religious phone apps purportedly violating their cyberspace law.
In response, Apple instructed its App store in mainland China to take down both the Bible and Quran apps for equality purposes. Amazon followed suit by removing its audiobook service, Audible, from the Apple store.
Apple said they need to comply with local laws in China whose policies stem from complex issues.
From the business point of view, Apple needs to heed because China is Apple’s largest market, sustaining its hardware supply chain operation.
App owners and creators have long noticed China’s obscure causes in removing apps as the communist country enhances its online information and internet sector. One reason pointed out for apps removal was the hosting of religious text and materials deemed illegal.
Chinese spokesperson in the U.S. Liu Pengyu said, “the development of the Internet in China must also comply with Chinese laws and regulations.”
According to App Store Monitor, three Bible apps have been removed in China since October 15, 2021. Online shopping for hard copies of the Bible has been disabled.
App owner Olive Tree Bible Software said they learned from Apple’s App Store review process that it needed special permission from Chinese authorities to distribute apps with “book or magazine content.” They have since been reviewing the requirements to obtain the necessary permit “with the hope that we can restore our app to China’s App Store and continue to distribute the Bible worldwide.”
In September 2021, Audible removed its app from the Apple store in mainland China “due to permit requirements.”
Meanwhile, the removal of Quran Majeed app was due to its content that requires additional documentation from Chinese authorities,” said Pakistan Data Management Services (PDMS) in a statement.
Christians are enjoined to pray that the word of God is proclaimed boldly in China to reach the many lost souls in the communist country.