China’s crackdown on perceived threats by foreign companies targeting Chinese citizens has escalated after the nation’s cyberspace watchdog ordered the removal of 105 apps, including global travel platform TripAdvisor, from local app stores.
The Cyberspace Administration of China published a statement on its website on Tuesday in which it said the removal of apps was in response to complaints from citizens about illegal services and content, including gambling, being provided by certain apps. In particular it claimed the 105 apps in question were “spreading obscene, pornographic, violent, bloody and other illegal information, and providing illegal services such as fraud, gambling and prostitution.“
It is not known exactly why TripAdvisor was included on the list although it is most likely due to the ability to search and book accommodation at foreign resorts that include casinos.
The statement, which cites China’s Network Security Law plus Regulations on Content Ecological Governance and Regulations on the Management of Mobile Internet Application Information Services, also revealed that eight app stores have been shut down for failing to fulfil audit requirements and for making such content available.
This latest move comes after China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism claimed in August that it had established a “blacklist” of overseas tourist destinations it said were disrupting the nation’s outbound tourism market by opening casinos targeting mainland Chinese customers. The blacklist, believed to reference jurisdictions such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Australia, would see travel restrictions imposed on Chinese citizens going to certain overseas cities and scenic spots, the Ministry said.
China also published an amendment to its criminal law in October creating a new crime against foreign casinos found to be organizing or soliciting Chinese citizens to gamble. The penalties for those found guilty match the crime of “opening casinos” in China, which carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, or up to 10 years in serious circumstances.
The Cyberspace Administration of China said Tuesday it would “continue to promote the rectification of mobile applications, strengthen the supervision and inspection of mobile application information services, promptly clean up and dispose of illegal mobile applications and application stores, and strive to create a clear cyberspace.”