The Chinese government has become a thorn in the side of Google and Apple as it threatens to kill off several apps for its smartphone operating system, the company has revealed.
Chinese firm Tencent – which has been slammed by the world’s second-largest economy for its activities in the country – is under threat from Apple over a mobile app that allows users to text and make payments across an enormous Chinese banking network.
The WeChat brand provides the backbone of the most-used smartphone app in China. More than 891m people use the app, or one in seven of China’s mobile users. One of the most valuable companies in the world, worth more than $500bn (£415bn), Tencent is best known for WeChat, a twin of its hugely popular WeChat and QQ messaging services. The Chinese population has been made increasingly dependent on mobile payments through WeChat, but it contains a number of flaws and the company has been threatened with withdrawal from the country’s market.
Apple is now preparing to remove the WeChat app from its stores in an effort to curb the problem.
Apple is rushing to block some apps that it says were developed by anti-Chinese companies such as Tencent to illegally access Chinese banking operations via virtual private networks (VPNs).
Apple’s massive financial stake in China – it opened its first store in the country in 1984 and now generates more than half of its global sales from China – has led to accusations of back-room dealings with the Chinese government that have forced it to liberalise its business practices.
A lobby group opposed to China’s controversial Great Firewall has called for Apple to be investigated for breaching international law by refusing to reveal the location of users who had requested their information from the company.