Apple Removes Whatsapp and Threads from China App Store

Apple Inc. has confirmed the removal of Meta Platforms Inc.’s WhatsApp and Threads from its China app store following an order from the country’s internet regulator, citing security risks.

This action follows a cleanup initiative launched by Chinese regulators in 2023 aimed at eliminating defunct or unregistered apps from domestic iOS and Android stores.

The move against these American tech services coincides with the U.S. government’s efforts to potentially ban TikTok, the popular video-sharing app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd.

U.S. policymakers have raised national security concerns, pressing for TikTok’s sale to a non-Chinese owner or facing a ban in the U.S. market.

iPhone 14 Pro Max (Credits: Apple)

Apple emphasized its compliance with local laws, stating, “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.”

The removal of these apps in China was mandated by the Cyberspace Administration of China due to national security concerns, according to Apple. However, WhatsApp and Threads remain available for download on other global storefronts.

Access to foreign social media platforms like WhatsApp has long been restricted in China without tools to bypass the Great Firewall, such as virtual private networks. The removal of these apps further limits users’ ability within the country to access content on international platforms.

Apple iOS Look (Credits: Apple)

In another move, China required all mobile app developers to register with the government by the end of March, ostensibly to combat telephone scams and fraud.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced plans to oversee these registrations from April to June and to take action against unregistered apps. Developers were also mandated to establish and enhance mechanisms to address “illegal information.”

This initiative by Beijing is part of broader efforts to tighten control over its cyberspace, imposing stricter regulations on both domestic and foreign entities to censor politically sensitive content.

Beyond apps, websites, and large language AI models have also faced increased content restrictions.

Josh Alba
Josh Alba
Josh Alba stands at the forefront of contemporary business journalism, his words weaving narratives that illuminate the intricate workings of the corporate world. With a keen eye for detail and a penchant for uncovering the underlying stories behind financial trends, Josh has established himself as a trusted authority in business writing. Drawing from his wealth of experience and relentless pursuit of truth, Josh delivers insights that resonate with readers across industries.
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