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China Orders Apple to Remove Apps From Its Store

The Cyberspace Administration of China commanded Apple to pull Meta’s WhatsApp and Threads from its App Store in China, citing national security worries. This comes after Signal and Telegram were also axed from the Chinese digital shelves. Ironically, this crackdown on digital freedom comes as Washington wrangles with the idea of banning TikTok, a Chinese app, from American phones.

Apple, toeing the line with an air of reluctant compliance, essentially said they have no choice but to bow to the regulations of the countries they do business in, even when those directives rub against its own values and principles. China’s command to strip WhatsApp and Threads from their Chinese App Store is all under the excuse of national security worries. This reasoning doesn’t hold much water when you look closer. These apps represented a digital lifeline, a means for the folks in China to vault over the Great Firewall with virtual private networks, in search of a slice of unfiltered reality beyond the rigid censorship that the CCP enforces.

The crackdown on these apps is part of a broader “cleanup program” initiated by Chinese regulators in 2023, which, under the guise of removing defunct or unregistered apps, tightens the noose on digital freedom, forcing all mobile app developers to register with the government or shut down operations. Chinese consumers are now tethered more tightly to domestic apps, with the international digital horizon shrinking away.

It’s a stark reminder of the lengths to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to maintain its stranglehold on information, controlling what its citizens can see, hear, and speak. It’s a calculated campaign to quash dissent, smother freedom of expression, and keep the citizens of China in a state of information blackout, all while its leaders paint this draconian control as routine housekeeping.

This maneuver by China not only intensifies the isolation of Chinese citizens from global discourse but also puts Apple, a titan of industry striving to maintain its market share in China, the world’s largest smartphone battleground, in a precarious position. Despite leading the pack last year, Apple now faces stiff competition from Huawei, a reminder of the ongoing tussle for technological supremacy.

Robert B. Chernin

Robert B. Chernin

Robert is a longtime entrepreneur, business leader, fundraiser, and former radio talk show host. He studied political science at McGill University in Montreal and has spent over 25 years deeply involved in civic affairs at all levels. Robert has consulted on a variety of federal and statewide campaigns at the gubernatorial, congressional, senatorial, and presidential level. He served in leadership roles in the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush as well as McCain for President. He led Florida’s Victory 2004’s national Jewish outreach operations as Executive Director. In addition, he served on the President’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.