Chinese app stores enforce new rules

Anne Freer | September 5, 2023

App Business

Mobile app stores in China, run by companies like Tencent and Xiaomi, are now stopping app makers from releasing new apps if they haven’t met all the required rules from authorities. This follows new regulations introduced last month to have more control over mobile apps in the country.

What’s happening in Chinese app stores?

New regulations in China now mandate mobile app creators to share their business information with the government. App stores in China were given until the end of August to set up their systems for managing these submissions related to new apps.

Starting from Friday, new apps on Android app stores are required to have these filings, and existing apps must have them by March 31. This essentially means that all apps on these stores, whether they are global or local, need to establish a presence in China or collaborate with a local partner.

People in the industry are worried that it might become really hard to publish apps in the second-biggest economy and that many apps might even have to be taken down.

These regulations highlight that even though Chinese authorities seem to have concluded a prolonged period of extensive regulations targeting the technology sector, there’s still ongoing scrutiny. This is in line with Beijing’s goal to align business operations with its socialist principles.

How will stores respond?

Last week, major Android-based app stores run by companies like Tencent, Huawei Technologies, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo sent out notifications to app developers, informing them that new apps lacking proper documentation would not be featured on their platforms.

It’s not clear how Apple’s app store in China will adapt to the new regulations from Beijing. As of Monday, Apple hasn’t been verifying the filing status of apps, as reported by AppInChina based on their own checks.

Apple, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, as well as Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo, have not responded to requests for comments.

Tencent’s WeChat, which is China’s most popular social media platform, notified app publishers that the same filing requirement would apply to “WeChat mini apps” referring to apps directly published on the WeChat platform.

According to Huawei’s notice, a special task force has been established by the ministry to enforce the new policy. The ministry has also planned discussions with industry participants about the implementation of this policy. The notifications explained that app stores will need to clearly indicate the filing status of each app on their platforms.

Key takeaways

  • Chinese app stores (Tencent, Xiaomi) block new apps that don’t follow rules, following stricter regulations to control mobile apps
  • New rules require disclosing business info; stores had until August to set up systems for app submissions
  • Apple’s approach uncertain; major app stores issue notifications for compliance; Tencent’s WeChat also affected; ministry establishes enforcement task force

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