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April 27, 2024
1 min read

Apple removes WhatsApp, Threads from China App Store per Beijing’s orders

Following an order from China’s internet watchdog citing national security concerns, Apple has made the decision to remove WhatsApp and Threads from its app store within the country. This directive, issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, has prompted Apple to comply, emphasizing its commitment to adhering to local laws despite any disagreements.

An Apple spokesperson stated, “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.” The spokesperson further clarified that while the apps are being removed from the China storefront, they remain available for download on other global storefronts.

Both WhatsApp and Threads, owned by Meta (formerly Facebook), were previously inaccessible in China and required the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) for access. This move by Apple underscores a widening gap between tech ecosystems within China and beyond, as noted by Duncan Clark, chairman of Beijing-based investment advisory BDA China. Clark highlighted the inconvenience this may cause for consumers and businesses in China who interact with overseas contacts, as VPNs may eventually become obsolete.

Despite the removal of these apps, other Western social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger remain accessible on Apple’s China app store.

This development coincides with a challenging period for Apple in the Chinese market, with iPhone sales experiencing a notable decline. Factors such as nationalism, economic challenges, and increased competition from domestic brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO/OnePlus have contributed to Apple’s struggles in China. Nevertheless, China remains a crucial market for Apple, and the company continues to offer discounts and incentives to bolster sales in the region.

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