Apple says it has been ordered to pull WhatsApp from the Chinese App Store

Apple said it pulled Meta-owned WhatsApp and Threads apps from its app store in China on Friday on government orders, potentially escalating the technology war between the United States and China.

The House of Representatives was preparing to vote as early as this weekend on a bill that would force Chinese Internet company ByteDance to sell its popular video app TikTok or ban it in the United States. US lawmakers have said TikTok poses a security threat due to its ties to China.

Apple said China's internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration, ordered the removal of WhatsApp and Threads from its app store due to national security concerns. Apple said it complied.

“We are obligated to follow the laws of the countries in which we operate, even when we disagree,” an Apple spokesperson said.

A Meta spokesperson referred requests for comment to Apple. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Apple's removal of the apps.

China has long blocked American apps and technology companies, including Facebook and Instagram, which are also owned by Meta. WhatsApp, one of the world's most popular messaging services, and Threads have not been widely used in China, which has an elaborate system for blocking foreign apps and websites within its borders, known as the Great Firewall. In China, WhatsApp is dwarfed by WeChat, the Chinese-owned messaging app.

However, until Friday, Chinese users could download WhatsApp and use it with the help of a virtual private network, or VPN, used to set up secure web connections and view content banned in China.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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