Nothing stays off the table forever.
Apple recently removed access to VPN services on its China App Store in compliance with government wishes. VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, are the chief method for
circumventing China’s “Great Firewall” and getting access to websites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter.
Apple has been one of the most successful brands in China, largely due to its adroit negotiating with PRC authorities. Market access, however, has come at a cost. Apple, like many other MNC brands in China, has consistently given ground on its core values – particularly in terms of privacy safeguards and data protection. Apple has routinely put its China user information under the control of Chinese government agencies and submitted to Chinese authorities, even as the company was mounting sophisticated legal challenges to government policies in the US and Europe.
Last week’s announcement that Apple would be removing 3rd party VPN providers from it’s Apps Store came as a surprise to many, but Beijing had been hinting that they planned to curtail the use of VPNs. Amazon has made a similar announcement, and it seems clear that this is the latest “new normal” in the world of Chinese internet.