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China clamps down on Apple with iTunes closures

After a period of flourishing in China, Apple has seen two of its services closed down by authorities.

In recent times, Apple has added China to the list of launch territories for its latest iPhones, and it sold 13 million iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus handsets to Chinese customers in their first weekend on sale. It also recently launched Apple Pay into a market hitherto dominated by local services.

Almost a year after China officially became Apple’s second most important territory after the US, however, it has run into a major snag.

The New York Times has reported that China has shut down Apple’s local iBooks Store and iTunes Movies services. They had been available in the country since September.

After an amicable start, Apple seems to have run afoul of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television department, which sources claim has thrown its weight around and demanded the closures.

“We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” said an Apple spokesperson when quizzed about the shut down.

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Has Apple’s rapid expansion in China at the expense of local rivals proved to be its undoing?

Comments from President Xi Jinping seem to suggest that may be so. “China must improve management of cyberspace and work to ensure high-quality content with positive voices creating a healthy, positive culture that is a force for good,” Xi is reported as saying in a high profile tech meeting following the closures.

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Whatever the reason, Apple needs an unrestricted Chinese market more than ever, with sales of iPhones and iPads slowing in its traditional Western strongholds.

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