"We received notification from Apple today, July 29, 2017, at roughly 04:00 GMT, that the ExpressVPN iOS app was removed from the China App Store. Our preliminary research indicates that all major VPN apps for iOS have been removed," ExpressVPN said in its blog.
Another company called Star VPN said in its twitter it had also received Apple's notification of removal. In addition, some users said that they could not find a number of popular VPN applications in the Chinese App Store.
Apple has not commented on the removal of VPN applications.
Edward Snowden, former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, turned whistleblower, criticized Apple's actions. "Apple has done much good for privacy and security in recent years, but actively assisting censorship crosses the red line of human rights," he wrote on Twitter.
On July 10, media reported, citing unnamed industry sources, that Chinese authorities planned to require the nation’s telecommunications operators to block individual access to VPN services, which allow to bypass the country's powerful Internet-filter, also called the Great Firewall of China, by February next year.
Currently, some of the world's most popular websites, including Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, as well as a number of online media, are blocked in China.