Apple has removed the messaging app WhatsApp and the social networking app Threads from its App Store in China, following orders from the Chinese government citing national security concerns, Bloomberg reports.

The removal of these apps was confirmed by Apple after a directive from the Cyberspace Administration of China, which has not provided specific details on how these apps might compromise national security. Telegram and Signal messaging services have also been removed. However, experts suggest that this move could be linked to a new Chinese regulation that requires all apps to be registered with the government. The regulation, which took effect on April 1, mandates strict compliance and could lead to the removal of unregistered apps.

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While WhatsApp and Threads have been taken down, other Meta platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger remain available in the Chinese market.

Apple stated that it is obligated to comply with the laws of the countries where it operates, indicating a complex balance between adhering to local regulations and navigating the broader implications for global tech operations. This is not the first time Apple has had to remove apps from its China store due to government requests. Past removals have included various news and AI applications.

Observers note that while the main messaging platforms in China continue to be dominated by local services like WeChat, the removal of international apps like WhatsApp and Threads limits the options for secure communication and social networking available to users within the country.

This recent development is a clear indication of the tightening grip of Chinese authorities over the digital environment, raising concerns about privacy, data security, and international business operations in one of the world's largest markets.