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Apple removes WhatsApp from China app store




said it had removed




messaging app and its


social media app from App Store in China to comply with orders from Chinese authorities. The apps were removed Friday after Chinese officials cited unspecified national security concerns. Their removal comes amid elevated tensions between the US and China over trade, technology and national security.
The US has threatened to ban TikTok over national security concerns.

But while TikTok, owned by Chinese technology firm ByteDance, is used by millions in the US, WhatsApp and Threads are not commonly used in China. Instead, the messaging app WeChat, owned by Chinese company Tencent, reigns supreme.
Other Meta apps, including Facebook,


and Messenger, remained available for download, although use of such foreign apps is blocked in China due to its “Great Firewall” network of filters that restrict use of foreign websites such as Google and Facebook.
“The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns,” Apple said in a statement. “We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.” A spokesman for Meta referred to “Apple for comment.”

Apple, previously the world’s top smartphone maker, recently lost the top spot to Korean rival Samsung Electronics. The US firm has run into headwinds in China, one of its top three markets, with sales slumping after Chinese govt agencies and employees of state-owned companies were ordered not to bring Apple devices to work. Apple has been diversifying its manufacturing bases outside China. Its CEO Tim Cook has been visiting Southeast Asia this week, traveling to Hanoi, Jakarta and Singapore.

A person briefed on the situation said the Chinese govt had found content on WhatsApp and Threads about Prez

Xi Jinping

, that was inflammatory and violated the country’s cybersecurity laws. The specifics of what was in the content was unclear, the person said.
Other apps had also been removed from Apple’s App Store in China on Friday, including Signal, which is based in the US, and Telegram, based in Dubai, UAE, according to Appfigures, a market research firm that analyses the digital economy.
WhatsApp had been downloaded 15 million times on iPhones in China since 2017, while Threads had been downloaded 470,000 times, reports Appfigures.

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