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Apple Removes WhatsApp and Threads from China App Store at Government’s Request

At the direct order of the Chinese government, Apple has been forced to remove the WhatsApp and Telegram apps from the App Store in the country.

Update: It appears that Apple has also removed the Telegram and Signal messaging apps from the Chinese App Store, following WhatsApp and Threads.

Main News: Apple says it has removed the iPhone versions of the WhatsApp and Threads apps from the App Store in China at the direct order of the Chinese government. It appears that China’s order was based on “national security concerns.”

According to Reuters, other Meta platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are still available on the App Store in China. Many other popular apps from Western companies, such as YouTube and TikTok, are also available on the App Store in China.

It is not yet clear exactly how the WhatsApp and Threads apps posed a threat to China’s national security.

Apple said in an email to Reuters: “The Cyberspace Administration of China has ordered the removal of these apps from the China App Store based on national security concerns. We are obligated to follow the laws of the countries where we operate, even when we disagree with the laws.”

Apple says that WhatsApp and Threads will still be available for download in other versions of the App Store. Chinese analysts say the removal of WhatsApp and Threads is likely related to a new law passed last year that requires all apps to obtain a government license.

This is not the first time Apple has removed apps from the App Store at the behest of the Chinese government. In 2017, the company removed the New York Times news app for “violating local laws.” The app in question is still not available in China today.

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