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I've recently had an app of mine accepted for distribution on the iOS App Store. As usual, I selected to allow for publication on all App Stores. The app was approved and the app was available to download on all the international app stores.

Approximately 24 hours later, I received the following message in the Resolution Center:

We are writing to notify you that your application, application name, will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines :

22.1 Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users. It is the developer's obligation to understand and conform to all local laws

While your app has been removed from the China App Store, it is still available in the App Stores for the other territories you selected in iTunes Connect.

Is it possible to see what it was about the app that was regarded as illegal?

I'm not aware of any content of my app that would be regarded as illegal, especially as my app was only removed from the China App Store rather than internationally, and nothing illegal was 'picked up' in review.

The app in question is Free Bitcoin (iTunes link).

  • Without consulting a lawyer that knows law in China, you might have to try submitting a second app to test if/when it gets approved. What specifically is the app? Linking to it might help someone here make an educated guess. – bmike May 20 '15 at 20:50
  • @bmike I've added a link to the app if you want to take a look. I did want to keep this question broad though to apply to anyone else in a similar situation. – grg May 22 '15 at 15:53
  • Some possibly related stuff: coindesk.com/… – Tom Gewecke May 22 '15 at 16:09
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There is no way to gather more insight, other that what Apple tell you directly. Only Apple will be able to answer your question for more information.

Ask the Apple iTunes Connect team via the Contact Us details:

App Review

Find out the status of your app and submit general questions for the App Review Team.

Ask the Apple Review team via the appeal process:

App Review Board

The App Review Board provides the opportunity to appeal the rejection of an app if you believe that the functionality or technical implementation was misunderstood. You can submit additional details to the App Review Board to help them determine if your app should be reconsidered. Sign in to submit an appeal.

  • Thanks, I saw the ability to appeal but I don't want to appeal the decision—I'm purely curious. I guess I could use the appeal function but state that I'm not really appealing, but is there a better way? – grg May 20 '15 at 17:24
  • you might be able to ask a person who knows about China's laws if they could look at your app and see if anything jumps out. – dwightk May 20 '15 at 17:32
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    China can be somewhat tyrannical when it comes to lawmaking, similar to North Korea in many ways. It makes you appreciate living almost anywhere else... In any case, deploying an app in China can be difficult due to this. If you have a significant user base in China, or expect to, then you may have to make a custom version, equipped with all the censorship the Chinese government requires. – William T Froggard May 20 '15 at 17:39
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    You can also ask via the Contact Us > App Review details added to the answer. – Graham Miln May 20 '15 at 18:02
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    @grgarside Now that I see it's a bitcoin mining app, I have little doubt you're fighting a very large battle if you choose to get it approved for sale in China. See China Bites into Bitcoin Maybe you can get some press on your app for being controversial? Sometimes being banned is the best thing to ever happen to a book or record. Maybe you could parlay that into success elsewhere. – bmike May 22 '15 at 22:45
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A subsequent app not for Bitcoin but another cryptocurrency, Ethereum Faucet (iTunes link), was approved by app review, then removed from the China store hours later with the following:

We are writing to notify you that your application, Ethereum Faucet, will be removed from the China App Store because it includes content that is illegal in China, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines :

  1. Legal
    Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where you make them available (if you’re not sure, check with a lawyer). We know this stuff is complicated, but it is your responsibility to understand and make sure your app conforms with all local laws, not just the guidelines below. And of course, apps that solicit, promote, or encourage criminal or clearly reckless behavior will be rejected.

Specifically, the app facilitates the transmission of cryptocurrency, which is not legal in China

While your app has been removed from the China App Store, it is still available in the App Stores for the other territories you selected in iTunes Connect.

In the two years since asking this question, alongside editing the guidelines with a more detailed description of that point, they also added a new paragraph which seems to detail precisely what is wrong, namely that ‘the app facilitates the transmission of cryptocurrency’. That would seem to be the same reason as the app I asked about in the question.

  • Great update. The improved rejection notice helps a bit so you can not submit further apps to that country at least. – bmike Jun 20 '17 at 9:42

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