Apple faces shareholder vote over Chinese app removals

Apple shareholders today will vote on a proposal critical of the company’s decisions to remove apps at the request of the Chinese government and calling on Apple to report whether it has “publicly committed to respect freedom of expression as a human right.”


Apple removes Chinese apps. Image: Apple logoThe shareholder proposal on freedom of expression focuses on Apple’s 2017 removal of virtual private network apps here from its App Store in China. Such apps allow users to bypass China’s so-called “Great Firewall” aimed at restricting access to overseas sites.

Apple opposes the proposal, saying it already provides extensive information about when it takes down apps at the request of governments around the world and that it follows the laws in countries where it operates. “[W]hile we may disagree with certain decisions at times, we do not believe it would be in the best interests of our users to simply abandon markets, which would leave consumers with fewer choices and fewer privacy protections,” Apple said in its opposition.

Proxy advisory firms Glass Lewis and Institutional Shareholder Services both recommend votes in favor the measure, according to reports from them seen by Reuters.

MacDailyNews Note: Last October, U.S. Senator’s Ted Cruz (R, Texas) and Patrick Leahy (D, Vermont) penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook regarding the removal of VPN apps from Apple’s App Store in China.

In July, Apple removed most major VPN apps from the App Store in China at the request of China’s MIIT (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) and released a statement regarding the removal of the VPN apps from their App Store in China:

Earlier this year China’s MIIT [Ministry of Industry and Information Technology] announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government. We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations. These apps remain available in all other markets where they do business. — Apple Inc.

Apple will host the 2020 Annual Meeting of Shareholders at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino on February 26, 2020 at 9am Pacific.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. Would somebody please explain to me how anybody in China would benefit if Apple refused to pull unlicensed VPN apps? That would simply lead the PRC to shut down the App Store entirely. Chinese Apple customers would still not have the banned apps, but they would not have any other apps either. Please explain how the Chinese user and developer communities are any better off under that scenario than if only unlicensed VPN apps are affected.

    1. “Would somebody please explain to me how anybody in China would benefit if Apple refused to pull unlicensed VPN apps?”

      “Unlicensed” apps Cook defender? 🤔

      I would describe them as Communist government non-approved and censorship.

      There, I fixed it for you…

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