Apple to remove Bible app from China, giving in to government pressure


The tech giant noted that the company’s policy is to comply with local and regional laws.

Producers of a digital Bible had no choice but to remove their app from Apple’s App Store in China.

The withdrawal came as Chinese authorities pressured Apple to remove several religious apps. Apple recently agreed to Chinese demands to remove a similar Quran app.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Olive Tree Bible Software has been informed that they need a license to distribute religious texts in China. The company noted that the issue arose when it tried to update the app. Their statement explained:

“Because we didn’t have the license and needed to get our app update approved and released to customers, we removed our Bible app from the Chinese App Store. “

China’s relationship with the Church and its doctrine is complex. In 2018, the Vatican reached an agreement with the communist country on the appointment of bishops. CNA notes that the details were never fully disclosed, but in essence, China chooses which bishopric candidates it deems acceptable and the Vatican can select its prelates from that pool. In 2020, this agreement was renewed until 2022.

Application permissions

CBN News reports, however, that Olivier has not yet abandoned China. The company, which has been producing Bible apps since the 1990s, said it was working to get the proper license. A spokesperson said:

“We are currently reviewing the requirements for obtaining the necessary license in the hope that we can restore our app to the Chinese App Store and continue to distribute the Bible around the world. “

Olive Tree was the loudest, but it’s not the only Bible app that has been removed from the App Store. CNA notes that even hard copies of the Bible are no longer available for purchase in China.

For Apple, this decision is consistent with their policies regarding regional regulations. The company led the BBC to his Human rights policy, which reads, “We are required to comply with local laws, and there are sometimes complex issues on which we may disagree with governments.” ”

Tighten restrictions

These developments come at a time when China is tightening restrictions on the internet. In May, the country shut down a Christian chat application called WeChat for violating “Internet Users’ Public Account Information Services Management Provisions.”

Secular applications have also fallen prey to Chinese laws. The licensing requirements laws have resulted in the closure of Amazon’s audiobook library, Audible, in mainland China. Microsoft’s LinkedIn also recently announced that it would shut down its social media app in China after the country blocked the profiles of some journalists.

Read China’s restriction list at the NAC.

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