The problems with China’s app filing policy are not so much that they affect individual developers, as the policy does not actually prohibit individual developers from registering. The most concerning aspect is that this policy has built a wall that blocks all foreign-based apps from entering the country, regardless of their functions and purposes.
According to publicly available policies, this app filing policy follows the “ICP Filing Policy” launched more than a decade ago. The original intention of this policy was to establish binding connections between websites and their operators or providers, allowing for rapid blocking of “illegal” information. However, we should notice that since internet sites themselves are open systems, it is impossible to block all websites despite the existence of the Great Firewall of China (GFW). This applies to overseas universities, scientific resources, public websites, banks, and financial services, etc. that the government considers as “harmless”.
However, the app ecosystem is closed. If the filing policy is implemented and apps without registration cannot be used in China, a more stringent wall than the GFW is established, prohibiting all foreign apps that lack the conditions, willingness, or even knowledge about this policy. In the end, this disconnects Chinese mobile internet users from the international market completely – even if you simply want to download Yelp to look up food guides abroad, it becomes impossible. Especially in the closed iOS ecosystem, which does not support package installation, this would be an insurmountable problem.
It’s worth noting that the “ICP Filing System” does not allow foreigners or foreign companies to register and submit filing information. We do not know whether this requirement will continue to apply to the app filing policy.