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​Apple pulls New York Times app in China

Complying with government requests, the tech giant removes the news app from its Chinese iTunes Store.

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News and media apps are available on several Apple products, including the iPhone, Mac and Apple Watch.

Josh Miller/CNET

It's no secret China has long censored US-based websites and newspapers. And last month the government focused on a new target: The New York Times app.

Authorities asked Apple to remove both the English-language and Chinese-language New York Times apps from its Chinese iTunes store, according to the Times. And Apple complied with the request on December 23.

"For some time now The New York Times app has not been permitted to display content to most users in China and we have been informed that the app is in violation of local regulations," Apple spokesman Fred Sainz wrote in an email. "As a result, the app must be taken down off the China App Store. When this situation changes, the App Store will once again offer The New York Times app for download in China."

China's government-instituted censorship rules have long kept the country's population from accessing international news, limiting citizens' ability to share information and opinions on sensitive subjects. Popular sites and services such as Gmail, Facebook and Twitter have also been blocked in the country.

In the past, Apple has removed other book and news apps in China, including its own News app that aggregates the day's headlines.

China began blocking access to The New York Times' website in 2012, according to the newspaper, after it wrote several articles about then prime minister Wen Jiabao. Apps from The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal are still available in the Chinese iTunes Store, however.

Update, 2:54 p.m.: Adds comment from Apple spokesman Fred Sainz.