Chinese Internet users do not have easy life. The government blocks access to many services, including e.g. Facebook. The only way to circumvent this censorship blockade is to use a VPN application. However, the government systematically restricts its citizens access to these programs. It has now come the turn of the people who use the VPN application on iPhone and iPad devices. Apple for legal reasons had to remove from the Chinese App Store all VPN applications.
At the beginning of this year, China has banned all VPN services that are not approved by the government. In practice, this means that Chinese people can use this kind of software, but still the traffic will be censored. This means that authorized VPN services anyway block access to forbidden sites. Companies like Google or Yahoo had two options: to adjust to censorship and filter their services or to be banned. Until yesterday, all of these blocks could be bypassed by a single application installed on the smartphone.
— Star VPN (@star_vpn) July 29, 2017
Apple removed ExpressVPN and Star VPN from Chinese App Store.
About the whole situation the media learned directly from the manufacturers of removed applications. ExpressVPN developers even shared the message received from Apple. We learn that the app has been removed from the Chinese App Store because it is incompatible with local law. In practice, this means that Apple has bowed to the local government. If that were not the case, then China would simply block the access of its citizens to all Apple’s services. People using Android smartphones use alternatives for Play Store which are allowed by law. Apple cares about the integrity of their platform, so they do not allow anyone to install unverified applications.
Deletion of VPN applications is nothing more than a simple regional lock in the App Store, which can be circumvented in a fairly simple way. This method gained great popularity after the release of Pokemon GO, because the game was initially available only in several countries. Namely, Apple allows you to change the region in the App Store. This is a fairly simple operation, but not everyone knows about this solution.