WhatsApp, Threads, Telegram & Signal Removed from China’s Apple App Store


In a move echoing recent global tech tensions, Apple has axed four prominent apps from its China-based app store, complying with Beijing’s directive citing security concerns. Among the ousted apps are Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads, alongside Telegram and Signal, all renowned for their robust encryption features – a thorn in the side of surveillance-conscious authorities.

This crackdown follows a backdrop of escalating scrutiny on Chinese tech platforms abroad, notably exemplified by the US and EU’s intensified scrutiny of TikTok. While Congress inches towards an outright ban on TikTok, the EU scrutinizes its recent TikTok Lite iteration. This sequence of events prompts speculation on whether China’s app purge is a retaliatory maneuver.

However, the timing might align with a recent Chinese law mandating developer registration by the end of March, effective April 1. The ban, seemingly targeted at communication platforms, may be rooted in this legislative shift, suggests Reuters.

Interestingly, China’s move appears selective, sparing Meta’s other offerings like Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram. Additionally, popular Western platforms like X and YouTube remain untouched, hinting at a nuanced approach to app governance.

Apple, while complying with Beijing’s orders, expressed discontent, emphasizing adherence to local laws despite disagreement.

Notably, the ban hasn’t reached Hong Kong and Macau, underscoring the unique “one country, two systems” framework governing these regions. Their exemption highlights the complexities of tech regulation within China’s geopolitical landscape.

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