China says it has pulled Tripadvisor (TRIP) from mobile app stores in the country as the government embarks on a fresh bid to "clean up" the internet.
In a statement Tuesday, the Cyberspace Administration of China said it had removed 105 apps is considered to be "illegal," including that of the US travel giant.
Most of the platforms belonged to local Chinese firms, and it was not immediately clear why Tripadvisor — which features reviews of hotels and holiday destinations — was caught up in the crackdown. The Massachusetts-based company said in a statement that it was "not in a position to comment at this time."
As of Tuesday afternoon, Tripadvisor's website was still accessible in China.
Chinese regulators said the apps they removed were the first of many that would be taken down in a wide-ranging "clean-up" of online content that started last month.
The campaign is being held in accordance with several Chinese laws and is intended to wipe out content related to illegal activity, including obscenity, pornography, prostitution, violence, fraud, or gambling, according to authorities. "The Cyberspace Administration of China will continue to ... strengthen the supervision and inspection of mobile apps' information services, promptly clean up and dispose of illegal mobile applications and application stores, and strive to create a clear cyberspace," the agency said in a statement. India bans more Chinese apps as tensions remain high Chinese internet users have lived behind the so-called "Great Firewall" for years. US social media networks, such as Facebook (FB) and Twitter (TWTR), have long been blocked in the country, and the United States and China have increasingly clashed over technology from both sides.
Recently, for example, the Trump administration has threatened to ban short-form video app TikTok if it is not sold by its Chinese parent company ByteDance. Those negotiations are still ongoing.
China is also known for taking a hard line on restricting online content, even if the platforms are homegrown and wildly popular. In 2018, regulators reportedly pulled Toutiao — a news aggregation app that at the time was ByteDance's biggest hit — from iOS and Android app stores because of pornographic and vulgar content on its feeds.
The next day, Beijing ordered ByteDance to permanently shut down Neihan Duanzi, a social media platform where users were known to share crude content. During the episode, China's State Administration of Radio and Television urged ByteDance to "learn a lesson from this and weed out similar video content." That same year, China blocked hotel group Marriott's app and website for a week. The move came after the company was found to have listed Hong Kong and Macao as individual "countries" on its platforms, angering officials.