China’s app stores enforce strict disclosure rules

In recent developments reported by Reuters, mobile app stores in China operated by tech giants like Tencent, Xiaomi, and others have implemented strict regulations barring app publishers from launching new apps unless they comply with all the disclosure requirements mandated by Chinese authorities. This move aligns with new regulations introduced by Beijing aimed at tightening oversight over mobile apps in the country.

These new rules, introduced last month, have raised concerns within the tech industry, as they imply that the process of publishing apps in the world’s second-largest economy could become significantly more challenging, potentially leading to the removal of numerous apps from these platforms. The regulations require mobile app publishers to submit comprehensive business details to the government, and app stores in China were given until the end of August to establish robust filing systems to monitor new apps.

“The Android app stores have confirmed that new apps require the app filings from Friday onwards, and existing apps must have it from March 31 onwards,” said Rich Bishop, CEO of app publishing company AppInChina. “It forces all global apps on these app stores to either establish a local entity or work with a local partner.”

While these developments appear to mark the conclusion of a broader, years-long regulatory crackdown on China’s tech sector, they also underscore that the industry continues to face scrutiny. Beijing aims to align business activities with its socialist ideals, reflecting its ongoing commitment to regulating the tech sector.

Several major Android-based app stores, including those operated by Tencent, Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo, have issued notices to app publishers, informing them that new apps lacking the necessary documentation will not be featured on their platforms. While some of these notices have been reported by Reuters, others were officially posted by Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo. However, Apple has not yet disclosed how its app store in China will comply with these new regulations. As of now, it is not verifying apps’ filing statuses, according to AppInChina, citing its own investigations.

Apple did not respond to Reuters’ request for comments, and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has not issued an immediate comment on the matter. Similarly, Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have yet to respond to requests for comments.

Notably, Tencent’s WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform, has also informed app publishers that the same filing requirements will apply to “WeChat Mini Apps,” which are apps published directly on the WeChat platform.

Huawei’s notice indicates that MIIT has established a dedicated task force to enforce the new policy, and it has scheduled discussions with industry stakeholders regarding the implementation of these regulations. Furthermore, the notice specifies that app stores will be required to clearly display each app’s filing status on their platforms.

Last month, Apple took down several ChatGPT-like apps in China due to then-upcoming regulations. The reason cited in the notifications sent to the affected developers was “because they include content that is illegal in China.”

Written by Gizem Yılmaz


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