Apple staff have been in talks with Chinese officials concerning rules that could see Western social media apps removed from the App Store in China.
China's recently announced new laws require all App Store developers to either be based in that country, or partner with a local publisher. They must also register business details including an address.
China's Ministry of Industry and Information that announced the rules in August 2023, said that the requirements were effective immediately — but there is a grace period until March 2024. It effectively gives the Chinese government total control over whether to approve apps, or require their removal, and it's suspected that the law was created to block social media services.
According to the Wall Street Journal, an unspecified number of Apple staff have recently met with Chinese officials to express concern over the rules, their implementation, and how the law affects its users.
The publication says that the grace period now ends in July 2024 for at least some developers. However, social media firms such as Facebook are unlikely to comply.
That's because alongside the new laws requiring a local base or partner, there are concomitant issues over hosting data in China, and also complying with Chinese censorship requirements.
Consequently, Apple may have to remove apps such as Facebook, Twitter/X, Instagram, and more, or face unclear legal sanctions.
There are no further details on the meeting between Apple staff and Chinese officials, and neither side has commented publicly.