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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

Apple ordered to remove WhatsApp, Threads, Signal, and Telegram from Chinese App Store

In a move to comply with Chinese government directives, Apple has removed several popular messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal, from its iPhone App Store in China.

This action follows pressure from Chinese officials, who cited national security concerns as the reason behind the decision.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the removal, stating, "We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree." However, the spokesperson denied that the removal was related to political content critical of the Chinese president, as suggested by the Cyberspace Administration of China.

China's strict control over online content is well known. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) actively censors content and suppresses political speech that is critical of the regime. Beijing has implemented legislation and regulations to restrict online content, particularly that which supports pro-democracy movements.

The demand by China to remove these messaging apps indicates a growing intolerance by the central government towards foreign online services that fall outside its control.

Additionally, it signals a decrease in the leeway that companies like Apple have in China, its largest overseas market.

This move by China comes at a time when the United States is also taking a tough stance on Chinese-owned apps.

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that could potentially ban popular social media app, TikTok, from U.S. app stores if its Chinese parent company, Bytedance, does not divest from it within 165 days of passage. The bill also requires that the platform be bought by a country that is not considered a U.S. adversary.

While Apple has removed WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal from its Chinese App Store, other Meta-owned apps, including Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger, remain available for download. Similarly, other popular apps developed by Western companies, such as Google-owned YouTube and Elon Musk's X, are still accessible in China as of Friday.


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