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China tightens its grip on foreign and independent app developers

China's government has announced that all App Store developers must be based in China or partner with a local publisher, and provide business details including an address.

Following one new law banning ChatGPT-like apps, and games requiring an official license, China has announced strict new requirements for all app developers.

According to Reuters, China's Ministry of Industry and Information (MIIT) has announced that mobile app developers must file business details. The requirement appears to be effective immediately, but there is a grace period that expires in March 2024.

Following the end of that transition period, the government will reportedly punish developers. It is not clear whether that means forcing Apple to remove the apps from the App Store, levying fines, or possibly both.

It's tantamount to giving the Chinese government the power to approve apps, or require their removal under legal grounds, as Apple has complied with before. The rule may make it particularly hard for small and independent developers, or those with political apps, to continue.

More, the new rule applies not only to apps, but also to companies "engaged in internet information services through apps in such fields as news, publishing, education, film and television and religion..." Firms in these fields "should also submit relevant documents."

Consequently, this requirement may also be an attempt to block social media services such as Twitter/X, Instagram, and Facebook. Apps for these services are currently available in the local App Store, but this may mimic how Russia decreed in 2021 that technology firms must open local offices.