Apple Removes WhatsApp, Threads From Its App Store In China

Apple has taken the step to remove WhatsApp and Threads, both owned by Meta, from its App Store in China in response to a directive from the country’s top internet regulator, according to Bloomberg’s report on Friday.

China is known for its stringent internet censorship policies, which prevent mainland users from accessing various foreign apps and platforms, including Google, without the use of virtual private networks (VPNs).

In a statement, Apple stated its obligation to comply with local laws in the countries where it operates, even when there are disagreements. The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) cited national security concerns as the basis for ordering the removal of these apps from the China storefront.

While WhatsApp and Threads have been removed from the Chinese App Store, they remain available for download in other regions.

Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp, referred AFP to Apple for comment, while the CAC and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, another regulatory body, did not immediately respond.

China represents a significant market for Apple, with the company leading the country’s smartphone market last year. However, issues surrounding censorship and national security have persisted in Apple’s operations in China, amid ongoing technological competition between Beijing and Washington.

Earlier this year, China announced that it had successfully decrypted Apple’s AirDrop communication service, which was previously used by protesters during the 2019 pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.

While many popular online platforms are blocked in mainland China, resourceful iPhone users have been able to access banned apps through Apple’s App Store and bypass restrictions using VPNs.

The removal of WhatsApp and Threads from the Chinese App Store is expected to complicate access for new iPhone users in China, limiting their ability to download these apps. This development coincides with an upcoming vote in the US House of Representatives aimed at compelling TikTok, a widely popular video app, to sever its ties with its Chinese parent company, ByteDance. US officials have expressed concerns over potential national security and privacy risks associated with TikTok, despite reassurances from the company.

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Written by shanprakash

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