APPLE has removed thousands of gambling apps from its China app store, according to reports.
The tech giant would not confirm reports suggesting it had pulled 25,000 apps, but in a statement, the firm said: “gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China”.
The call follows criticism from state broadcaster CCTV for not doing enough to filter out banned material.
Apple currently offers more than 1.8 million apps in China.
The removal of the gambling apps has been widely reported, but originated from CCTV which claimed that Apple had carried out a “large-scale removal of illegal apps that sold fake lottery tickets and offered gambling services”.
In its statement, Apple said: “We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store.”
It is not the first time that the tech giant has been criticised by Chinese state media for having illegal apps in its store.
In the past year, Apple has removed Skype, as well as hundreds of virtual private networks, or VPNs which are used to send secure emails, transmit data and access websites that are blocked in China.
Apple has also been accused of not doing enough to filter banned content on its iMessage service.
In a report on Sunday, CCTV said: “Apple itself has set up the rules on how to allow apps onto its store, but it didn’t follow that.”
The network said that resulted in the proliferation of “bogus lottery apps and gambling apps”.
The latest media attack comes at a sensitive time for US companies operating in China, amid worries about the fallout of the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Yet despite the tit-for-tat trade tariffs threatened by both sides, American goods such as Apple’s iPhones continue to be popular in China.