In a statement on the crackdown, Apple didn’t directly acknowledge the media criticism but said it had “already removed” offending apps and developers, and was “vigilant” in finding illegal titles.
Unlike past instances where Apple pulled apps, this isn’t a response to newly enacted laws — it’s a question of the company improving its compliance with existing rules. However, it illustrates the ongoing challenges Apple faces with doing business in China. It has to simultaneously bow to the Chinese government’s desires and deal with the impact of US tariffs, but it also can’t easily withdraw from the market when such a large portion of its sales come from the region. So long as Apple wants a foothold in China, it might not have much choice but to respond quickly to outcries like this.