Software made by foreign companies to help users skirt the country's system of Internet filters has vanished from Apple's app store on the mainland.
ExpressVPN, one of the companies, posted on its corporate site a message from Apple saying that its program was illegal in China. VPNs are a significant way for Chinese residents to communicate and keep in touch with others internationally, especially considering China's blocking of of major websites like Twitter, Facebook and Google.
Apple has chosen to remove VPN software from its China store in an effort to comply with Beijing's VPN regulations. Approved VPNs must use state network infrastructure. That appears to be why Apple was forced to remove ExpressVPN and others like it. The removal is the latest sign of China's tightening measures to block individuals' access to virtual private networks, following shutdowns of several popular VPN services.
Apple perhaps believes it is best for its business to cooperate with requests from Beijing.
Apple is in the middle of a localisation drive in China, and named a new managing director for the region - a new role - this month.
VPNs are programs that allow users to reach the internet via a secondary connection and for Chinese users, these programs have been a major tool for working around the country's internet limitations.
Affected companies received noticed Saturday morning that their apps had been removed from the store for violating Chinese law, which might be related to legislation put in motion at the start of the year which sought to make VPNs operating in China require Chinese government approval.