Visitors gathering at Amazon booth during the 2016 China International Electronic Commerce Expo in Yiwu, east China’s Zhejiang Province, on April 11, 2016. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Amazon to Shut Down China App Store in Further Retreat From Country
By Alex Wu
Amazon has unexpectedly announced that it will close its Chinese website, amazon.cn, and its official app store in China on July 17, without giving any reason. Observers have said that it signals the U.S. e-commerce giant’s complete retreat from China and the Chinese regime’s further uncoupling from the West.
In an email on May 23, the official Chinese website of Amazon told users in China: “From July 17, Amazon China will no longer provide app store services. If you have any questions, please contact Amazon customer service.” Amazon already shut down its domestic e-commerce marketplace in China in 2019, citing the market dominance of domestic platforms.
An Amazon spokesperson said that the company will work closely with sellers to ensure a smooth transition and continue to provide the “best customer experience.”
Sellers in China who intend to sell their products overseas may continue to do so through the company’s global platform, and people will still be able to purchase products from the United States, Britain, Germany, and Japan via Amazon’s global store, subject to the regime’s checks on imported goods and taxes.
Amazon also announced in June 2022 that it will end the operation of its Kindle online bookstore in China on June 30 this year. Soon, users will not be able to purchase or download new ebooks, but they can download their existing ebooks before June 30 to read on their devices.
The sign of e-commerce website Amazon China next to a Kindle e-reader displayed in this illustration taken on Dec. 15, 2021. (Florence Lo/Reuters)
The Amazon Appstore has been available in about 200 countries since its introduction on March 22, 2011. It was made available in China in 2013, mainly providing content downloads, such as apps and games. All the apps had to be purchased and downloaded from the app store on Amazon’s official Chinese website for residents behind the Chinese regime’s internet firewall.
The app store in China and Amazon’s official Chinese website will both be shut down on July 17.
Companies Retreat From China in Droves
Amazon’s closure of its China-based marketplace marks yet another retreat of Western tech giants from China—the world’s second-largest economy.
In recent years, many Western enterprises have withdrawn from the Chinese market. At the end of May 2022, Airbnb announced that it would withdraw all listings in China and focus on the needs of outbound passengers. In November 2021, Yahoo ended its services in China.
In October 2021, LinkedIn announced that it would close its local users’ platform in China because of increasing difficulties in the operating environment and obstacles created by the regime’s regulations.
On May 9, LinkedIn announced that it would shut down all of its business in China and lay off employees in China. Since the shutdown, LinkedIn has completely withdrawn from China.
The logo for LinkedIn, a social networking website for people in professional occupations, is shown in Mountain View, Calif., on Feb. 6, 2013. (Robert Galbraith/REUTERS/File Photo)
In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult for foreign businesses to operate in mainland China because of the regime’s draconian COVID-19 restrictions and Beijing’s tightened control of the internet and information.
Regarding the most recent retreat of Amazon, U.S.-based China affairs commentator Shi Tao said on his talk show “Shi Tao Focus” that the move shows the determination of the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping, to further his policy of secluding China from the international community and uncoupling from the West.
“In the process of establishing his dynasty, Xi feels that communist China is strong enough and that he doesn’t need the West and the foreign companies anymore, and will further drive them out,” Shi said.