China’s Shocking Move Causes Apple to Block and Remove Meta’s WhatsApp & Threads from Chinese App Store

China’s internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, ordered Apple to remove Meta’s apps from its online store in the country due to alleged national security concerns

It appears that China is expressing dissatisfaction towards Meta led by Mark Zuckerberg and Apple. Consequently, Beijing has compelled Apple to eliminate Meta’s WhatsApp, Instagram, and Threads from Chinese App Stores.

On Friday, Apple announced that it was compelled to follow directives from China’s internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China, to delete Meta’s apps from its online store in the country due to purported national security worries.

In response to the removal, Apple mentioned that it must adhere to local laws in the countries where it operates, even if there is a disagreement. Meta, the parent company of WhatsApp and Threads, has not yet released a statement regarding this issue.

WhatsApp has a global user base of over 2 billion monthly active users, while Threads, a platform similar to Twitter, is a derivative of Instagram and was among the top four most downloaded services globally in December.

The exact timing of Apple’s removal of WhatsApp and Threads from the App Store in China remains uncertain, but as of Friday, reports suggest that they were no longer available on Chinese social media. However, other Meta communication platforms like Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram were still accessible.

This action closes a loophole that previously allowed Chinese users to access certain Western social media platforms through local app stores.

Despite the availability of downloading these apps from other countries’ App Stores and using them via virtual private networks, the delisting indicates stricter adherence to regulations by Apple. Additionally, individuals caught using a VPN to access banned platforms and websites in China will face severe consequences as per Chinese law.

The removal of these apps aligns with a deadline set by China’s internet regulator and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology for apps operating in China to officially register with the government.

This mandate obliges developers to establish a local presence and store their app’s back-end data and user data in China.

Amidst preparations for a US Congress vote on a bill targeting TikTok owned by ByteDance, tensions between US and Chinese tech firms continue to rise. Apple’s relationship with China has encountered obstacles, including decreased smartphone sales and heightened competition from Huawei.

Nevertheless, Apple remains dedicated to the Chinese market, evident through CEO Tim Cook’s recent visits and the inauguration of Apple’s largest store in Asia in Shanghai. Cook has also initiated efforts to diversify Apple’s supply chain by exploring production expansion in countries like India, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *