velera How Credit Union Innovation Can Drive Gen Z Engagement May 2024 Banner

Chinese Users Report WhatsApp Working Despite Country’s Ban

WhatsApp to Enable Status Updates Directly From Web Interface

WhatsApp is reportedly working in China despite a years-long ban on this and other foreign messaging and social media platforms.

Users of the Meta-owned messaging platform in the country said they have been able to send and receive messages without using the workarounds they normally have to employ, although it is unclear how many users can do so, Bloomberg reported Thursday (May 9).

SignalInstagram and some other platforms remain blocked in China, according to the report.

It is estimated that several million people in China use WhatsApp by employing a virtual private network (VPN) or other measures to get around the country’s blockade of the service, the report said.

Industry experts have said in the past that glitches in China’s network restrictions occasionally allow access to blocked services for short periods, per the report.

However, this time, some users said they have been able to use WhatsApp over an uninterrupted span of two weeks, according to the report.

The report comes about three weeks after Apple said it removed WhatsApp, ThreadsTelegram and Signal from its App Store in China after being ordered to do so by the Cyberspace Administration of China, which cited national security concerns.

Other Meta apps remained available for download in the App Store in China, including Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Many popular apps from other companies, including YouTube and X, formerly known as Twitter, were also available.

Even before this move, the apps, and many other foreign apps, were blocked on Chinese networks by the country’s “Great Firewall” and could only be used with proxy tools.

In September, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued new rules that aimed to close a loophole in the Great Firewall that allows Chinese iPhone users to download popular Western social media apps through VPNs.

Under the new rules, Apple can no longer offer these apps unless the app operators are registered with the government — a move analysts believe the operators are unlikely to make due to concerns about data transfer and censorship requirements.

The rules don’t specifically target Apple but impact the company due to the number of apps it offers.