Apple has responded following criticism regarding its removal of VPN apps from the China App Store. Apple CEO Tim Cook defended the move on Tuesday, "We would obviously rather not remove the apps. But like we do in other countries we follow the law wherever we do business."
Cook emphasized that Apple's decision to remove the VPN apps was in no way different to the US tech giant's compliance with local regulations in all its markets. He said, "We strongly believe participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there and in other countries as well."
According to the law published by the Cyberspace Administration of China in 2016, the country restricts apps that attempt to disrupt national security, social order, and other illegal activities.
Zhang Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said at a press conference on Tuesday that, "Our restrictions target service providers without licenses or operating illegally. Law-abiding individuals and businesses won't be affected."
Chinese President Xi Jinping had previously said, "You can't have national security without cyber security." As China seeks to build a community of shared future in cyberspace based on peace, sovereignty, shared governance, and shared benefits, Beijing's efforts to reassert sovereignty over cyberspace is no surprise.
Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports that the country's actions aim to ensure the security and order of cyberspace – and not to impede the free flow of information.