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Apple removes WhatsApp and Threads from the Chinese app store

Apple App Store

Apple users in China won’t find WhatsApp and Threads in the App Store anymore, as reported by The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Apple stated that it removed these apps from the store in compliance with orders from the Cyberspace Administration, China’s internet regulator, citing “national security concerns.” Apple clarified to the publications that it must adhere to the laws of the countries it operates in, even if it disagrees with them.

China’s Great Firewall blocks many non-domestic apps and technologies, leading locals to use VPNs to access them. While Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are already blocked in China, WhatsApp, and Threads were previously available for download.

The regulator’s order coincides with the upcoming Senate vote on a bill that could potentially ban TikTok in the US. The Cyberspace Administration’s justification, citing national security concerns for the ban, mirrors the arguments made by American lawmakers regarding TikTok.

In the current version of the bill, ByteDance has a year to divest TikTok, or the short-form video-sharing platform will face a ban from app stores.

The House is anticipated to approve the bill as part of a larger package including aid to Ukraine and Israel. President Joe Biden has expressed support for the package and intends to promptly sign the bills into law.