Tencent, others begin enforcing China’s new oversight move on apps

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A logo of Tencent is seen during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen

A logo of Tencent is seen during the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, China, November 23, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/file photo Acquire Licensing Rights

HONG KONG, Sept 4 (Reuters) – Mobile app stores in China run by Tencent Holdings (0700.HK), Xiaomi (1810.HK) and others have started to bar app publishers from launching new apps if they do not make all the disclosures required by authorities, documents seen by Reuters showed.

The moves comply with new rules introduced last month as Beijing tightens oversight of mobile apps in the country. The rules are causing consternation in the industry that publishing apps in the world’s second largest economy will become very difficult and many apps may need to be taken down.

The new rules, which require mobile app publishers to file business details with the government, gave app stores in China until the end of August to establish their filing systems to oversee new apps.

“The Android app stores have confirmed that new apps require the app filings from Friday onwards, and existing apps must have it from March 31 onwards,” Rich Bishop, CEO of app publishing firm AppInChina said.

“It forces all global apps on these app stores to either establish a local entity or work with a local partner.”

The new rules show that while authorities appear to have ended a years-long, wide-ranging regulatory crackdown on China’s technology sector, it still faces scrutiny as Beijing aims to keep business activities pegged to its socialist ideals.

Last week, Android-based app stores operated by Tencent, Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL), Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo issued notices to app publishers and said they will bar new apps without sufficient paperwork from being featured on their platforms. Some of the notices were seen by Reuters while others featured in blog posts by Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo.

Apple (AAPL.O) has not disclosed how its app store in China will comply with Beijing’s new rules. As of Monday, it is not yet checking apps’ filing status, AppInChina said, citing its own checks.

Apple did not reply to Reuters’ request for comment. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo also did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Tencent’s WeChat, China’s most popular social media platform, also notified app publishers that the same filing requirement is being applied to the so-called “WeChat Mini Apps”, which refer to apps that are published on WeChat directly.

According to Huawei’s notice, MIIT has established a dedicated task force to enforce the new policy. It has scheduled talks with industry participants about the new policy.

The notice also said app stores will have to clearly mark each app’s filing status on their platforms.

Reporting by Josh Ye; Editing by Brenda Goh and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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