It’s been confirmed that the sudden shutdown of Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks stores in China was due to a mandate by a Chinese state agency, in an attempt to control content distribution.

Apple's Chinese iTunes Movies and iBooks Stores Shut Down by Chinese State Agency


Citing sources familiar with the matter, The New York Times reports China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television shut down Apple’s iTunes Movies and iBooks Store last week.AppleInsider was first to report on the development last Thursday.

“We hope to make books and movies available again to our customers in China as soon as possible,” an Apple spokeswoman said.

While officials have remained mum on the matter, The Times suggests last week’s closures are an extension of China’s very restrictive Internet policies. The publication notes Chinese tech companies offer services similar to Apple’s content stores, but stops short of claiming the shutdown was meant to stifle competition.

The shutdown comes a mere six month after the opening of the stores as a piece of the iPhone maker’s major product launch in China, which included iTunes Movies, iBooks, and Apple Music. While the motives remain unclear behind the shutdown, it comes as a major blow to the Cupertino firm, as the country is viewed as a key growth market for the company, and is expected to someday pass the U.S. in terms of revenue.