Apple executives have met with Chinese officials

Apple executives have met with Chinese officials in recent months to address concerns over new regulations that will restrict the company from offering numerous foreign apps currently available on its iPhone app store in China, the Wall Street Journal reported today.

Officials have told Apple of the need to enforce rules that prohibit unregistered foreign apps. Apple employees have expressed concern about the potential impact of these rules on the user base.

China’s move to restrict these apps is aimed at closing a loophole in its Great Firewall that allows Chinese iPhone users to download popular Western social media apps such as Instagram, X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp.

Although China has blocked web access to these platforms for years, users can access them through their apps when they use a virtual private network (VPN) to connect to servers outside the country, despite China’s ban on unauthorized VPNs.

According to Sensor Tower estimates, these five social media apps have been downloaded a combined more than 170 million times in China over the past decade through Apple’s App Store.

Under new rules issued by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in July, Apple will not be able to offer such apps on its Chinese app store after next July unless the app operators are registered with the government.

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