Apple’s actions in China regarding the removal of unlicensed VPN apps are not at odds with its refusal in the US to unlock an iPhone that belonged to a San Bernardino shooter, Apple’s chief executive said during Tuesday’s post-earnings conference call with investors and analysts.

“Some folks have tried to link it to the US situation last year, but they’re very different,” he said.

He then explained why there’s no double standard:

In the case of the US, the law in the US supported us. It was very clear. In the case of China, the law is also very clear there, and like we would if the US changed the law here, we would have to abide by it in both cases.

That doesn’t mean we don’t state our point of view, in the appropriate way.

We always do that.

The Chinese government announced this year that all developers offering VPN services and apps needed to obtain a government license. Confronted with questions about the VPN situation in China, Cook said Apple was simply responding to new regulations.

Here’s the rest of the quote:

The central government in China back in 2015 started tightening the regulations associated with VPN apps—and we have a number of those on our store. Essentially, as a requirement for someone to operate a VPN, they have to a have a license from the government there.

Earlier this year, they began a renewed effort to enforce that policy, and we were required by the government to remove some of the VPN apps from the App Store that don’t meet these new regulations. We understand that those same requirements are for other app stores, and as we checked through, that was the case.

Today, there’s still hundreds of VPN apps on the App Store, including hundreds by developers that are outside of China, so there continues to be VPN apps available.

We would obviously rather not remove the apps, but like we do in other countries, we follow the law wherever we do business. We strongly believe that participating in markets and bringing benefits to customers is in the best interest of the folks there, and in other countries as well. We believe in engaging with governments, even when we disagree.

Cook is hopeful that over time, the restrictions on VPN apps in China will be loosened, “because innovation requires freedom to collaborate and communicate.”

READ THIS: Why you should use a VPN service

“Earlier this year, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that all developers offering VPNs must obtain a license from the government,” an Apple spokesperson told TechCrunch on Monday. “We have been required to remove some VPN apps in China that do not meet the new regulations.”

The same day, Russian President Putin signed a law prohibiting VPN services, which went into force yesterday, to stop people from accessing websites that are banned in the country.

  • n0ahcruz3

    What a hypocrite lol

    • Care to explain? Apple, like any company, has to abide by law.

      • jennyzeroo

        In a repressive authoritarian country that will be happy to kill you or lock you up for saying the wrong thing.

        Similar what a lot of libs here in the USA would like to do too, if they could ….oddly enough.

      • jennyzeroo

        Cook plays politics here in the USA, but NOT in a country where it really counts.

        Pick and chooser.

      • n0ahcruz3

        Gee I don’t know how to explain lol okay what’s the purpose of VPN? It’s to prevent others from tracking the users activity no? And China(government) banning VPN for what reason? Basically they want to track their users activity which violates users privacy that apple “values”. When the law enforcement from the San bernardino case wants apple to Unlock the phone but apple refused because it violates users privacy. I don’t know what u call it but i called that hypocrisy.

      • I don’t think that is the primary purpose of using VPN because just like some 3rd world countries the VPN apps are not found in the App Store because the governments basically BLOCK services and websites (FaceTime, Skype, etc etc). People use VPNs to unblock these and that’s it.

        No one there will tell you that they use VPN to be secured lol actually most of them or 95% of users use free VPN services which is full of crap ads, pop ups, and malware

      • Rowan09

        Your wrong. As Tim Cook said the laws in America allows them to say no, China is not America so if he or any company wants to do business there they have to follow the laws. Now if your saying Apple should leave China all together and lose billions, that’s not going to happen.

      • n0ahcruz3

        Exactly why tim cook is a hypocrite, just cause china is 2nd lucrative market and manufacturing for apple they will abide by their recent VPN laws. If US suddenly changes their Privacy law do u think Apple and tim Cook will sit by and obey it? I dont think so lmfao they will obey whatever china dictates then because tim cook is China’s b*tch

      • Rowan09

        Sorry you make little to no sense. If the US changes its laws Apple will have to follow the rules no matter how much they would like to do different. It’s business and you’re expecting Apple to fight the Chinese government when all they care about is making a profit. If Apple had an issue with all the countries around the world policy wise, they would only sell iPhones in only a few countries.

  • Alex

    “not inconsistent”, so consistent?

  • Charlie

    Well, the truth is if you want to make money in China you’ll just have to do what the government wants you to do. Regardless what your beliefs are

  • Abhinav Chaudhary

    Consider yourswlf lucky you dont live in China or North Korea.

  • jennyzeroo


    A true hypocrite and coward.

    Cook is a big talker in the no consequence USA, but a complete cave in when it requires true backbone.

    Some “man of the year”

    • Rowan09

      Smh. Dude they sold over 1 billion iPhones so do the math. You want Apple to leave China and any country that doesn’t have American rules? Come on man that’s ridiculous.

  • Tommy

    I’m from China and my VPN still works like a charm. Who the hell uses VPN apps anyway. Those are for noobs. Just key in the servers from any service providers and there you’ll go.