* WhatsApp users began experiencing problems with the service on Sunday night
* Analyst believe the ban is a preemptive move to hinder political activists as the country prepares for next month’s Communist Party Congress where President Xi Jinping is expected to get a new five-year term
* A similar restriction to WhatsApp service had occurred in in July but proved temporary, but it is unclear when the latest ban is likely to be removed
Chinese authorities have blocked WhatsApp it seems, as the country prepares for a major Communist Party Congress next month.
Users first experienced widespread disruption to WhatsApp service briefly in July, when a lot of people were unable to video chat or exchange photos. Now, text messaging as well as video sharing are currently not working and there are feelings this may be traced back to the Chinese authorities.
WhatsApp is favoured among Chinese activists over local messaging services because it offers end-to-end encryption. This is likely to have irked the Chinese government which monitors and regulates its cyberspace through its “Great Firewall.” As the Communist Party congress where President Xi Jinping is expected to be handed another five-year term as the party’s general secretary approaches, blocking WhatsApp appears to be a pre-emptive move.
Encryption-free services like Skype and FaceTime are allowed freely in China, but there is a feeling within the Chinese authorities that encrypted messages such as those exchanged over WhatsApp may be used by political activists organising against the government.
Facebook itself remains banned in mainland China as it has been for a very long time, but it remains to be seen how long the latest restriction to WhatsApp service is likely to last for. Businesses that rely on the world’s largest messaging service though will be hoping the ban is lifted sooner rather than later.