Apple Bows To China's Security Concerns: Pulls 2 Meta Products From App Store

Apple Inc. AAPL has taken down Meta Platforms’ META applications, WhatsApp and Threads, from its China App Store, in response to a Chinese government order.

What Happened: The Chinese government’s directive specifically targeted WhatsApp and Threads, without providing a detailed explanation of the perceived security threat, Reuters reported on Friday. Other Meta apps including Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger remain accessible in the China App Store.

Apple, in an email statement to Reuters, said, “The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered the removal of these apps from the China storefront based on their national security concerns. We are obligated to follow the laws in the countries where we operate, even when we disagree.”

At the time of publishing this article, a Meta spokesperson referred to Apple for further comments while Apple has yet to respond to the queries sent by Benzinga.

See Also: Chinese Fighter Jets Shadow US Navy Aircraft Over Taiwan Strait Amid Escalating Tensions: ‘Will Resolutely Defend National Sovereignty And Security…’

Why It Matters: This development follows a new regulation introduced last August, mandating all apps in China to register with the government or face removal. The deadline for registration was the end of March, and the rules came into effect on Apr. 1.

Apple has previously removed apps from its China App Store, including The New York Times news app in 2017, and several ChatGPT-like apps in 2021. Apple had initially resisted the Chinese government’s rules for app stores but eventually complied.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, recently visited China, a move that analysts suggest could indicate Apple’s intention to double down on its presence in the country, despite regulatory pressures and declining sales.

Meanwhile, Meta has faced its own share of challenges in China, partially due to CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s unfavorable image in the country.

The removal of the apps comes amid increasing tensions between the U.S. and China, with the U.S. House of Representatives recently moving forward on a bill that could ban TikTok in the U.S. unless sold by its owner, ByteDance Ltd.

Price Action: On Thursday, Apple closed 0.57% lower than its previous close at $167.04 while Meta closed at $501.80, indicating a 1.54% increase since its previous close.

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Photo by James Yarema on Unsplash

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