• Apple has removed WhatsApp and Threads from its Chinese app store following a government order.
  • WhatsApp has been blocked in China since 2017 and its parent company Meta since 2009.
  • Other Western platforms like Gmail, YouTube, Snap, and Spotify have also been censored in China.

Apple removed WhatsApp and Threads from its app store in China after being told to do so by the Chinese government, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China's top internet regulator asked Apple to remove the two apps because of national security concerns.

"We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree," an Apple spokesperson told The Journal.

The Chinese government has blocked WhatsApp since 2017, while its parent company, Meta, has been blocked since 2009. Other Western media platforms, including Gmail, YouTube, Snapchat, and Spotify, have also been censored in China.

Some users find ways to access these platforms through virtual private networks, but removal from the app store may prevent this.

Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment sent outside normal business hours.

A Meta spokesperson referred BI to Apple for comment.

WhatsApp has over 2 billion users globally, while Instagram Threads, which launched in July, has over 130 million global users, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in February.

China is an important manufacturing and consumer market for Apple. CEO Tim Cook visited the country last month to open a new store in Shanghai and rub elbows with top policymakers. That visit came after iPhone sales dropped earlier this year. And in January, Chinese chipmakers drew up plans to create chip production lines to supply processors to local smartphone makers. The move stands to hurt Apple, which has so far benefited from tight export restrictions.

China's direction to Apple comes as US policymakers debate a ban on TikTok, the popular Chinese app. Some lawmakers are concerned about data harvesting and political influence. The bill would prevent Apple and Google from distributing TikTok's app in their app stores and ban US websites from hosting TikTok.

Read the original article on Business Insider