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WhatsApp and Telegram removed from China's App Store at Beijing's request

Beijing has demanded from Apple Inc. to remove a number of popular messengers from the Chinese App Store. The Wall Street Journal reports.

Yesterday, the firm removed WhatsApp and Threads (Meta Platforms Inc.), as well as Signal, Telegram and Line messengers from the App Store.

The company said the Chinese authorities justified the demand to remove the apps on grounds of state security.

«We are required to follow the laws of the countries in which we operate, even when we disagree,» an Apple spokesperson said.

All these messengers are widely used in the PRC, although they are only available in the state through VPN services. The requirement to remove them from the App Store reduces the number of services through which Internet users can communicate with people outside the country and is another step to tighten control over the Internet in China, The Wall Street Journal notes.

In total, Facebook and Instagram, X, YouTube and WhatsApp apps have been downloaded more than 170 million times from the App Store in the PRC over the past decade, analytics firm Sensor Tower stresses.

Apple may be forced to remove many more apps from the App Store in the near future, given that in 2023 Beijing required all developers to register mobile apps in the country by March 2024.

Unregistered services, the authorities said, will be removed from the app stores.