A group of 28 developers in China filed a case accusing Apple of abusing its market position by removing their apps from the App Store without reason and charging high fees for in-app purchases, Financial Times (FT) reported.

The case, which claims Apple treats Chinese developers unfairly compared with those in the US, adds to the smartphone giant’s woes in the mainland, where sales have dropped sharply over the past 18 months.

Lin Wei, an attorney at Beijing-based Dare & Sure, which submitted the case, claimed Apple acts in favour of its business partners: “When companies that are important to Apple allege that certain apps infringe on their rights and should be taken down, Apple will do so with very little evidence or even no evidence,” wrote Dare & Sure in the complaint, according to FT.

Apple removed 58,000 Chinese apps in June as part of a worldwide crackdown on illegitimate apps, with local developers saying they did not receive sufficient explanation for app deletions, the newspaper said.

Mainland developers have also complained about Apple’s fee for in-app purchases, with the US-headquartered company taking a 30 per cent share of the purchases. This practice has also been questioned by European companies.

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Consumers in China have access to the App Store, while Google’s Play Store is blocked. China generated more revenue for the App Store in 2016 than any other country, according to IDC.

Lin also claimed the App Store is not legally registered in China, so isn’t licensed to provide internet content, FT said.

Apple’s revenue in greater China fell 10 per cent year-on-year in its fiscal Q3 ending 1 July.

This case is the latest obstacle Apple faces in China. The company announced in late July it will remove “some” VPN applications from the App Store in China, following new regulations to crack down on VPN services which bypass the country’s massive firewall to access overseas sites.

In mid-July Apple said it will set up its first data centre in China to comply with the country’s more restrictive cyber security law requiring global companies to store information locally.