The geopolitics of chat apps flare up as Line is reportedly banned in China.

oie transparent 31 Line is offline for many in China

As Hong Kongers take to the streets to protest their city state’s eroding democracy, China has pulled the plug on Japanese chat app Line for users in-country — all without the Japanese Prime Minister making another visit to a Tokyo memorial for war criminals.

While Line isn’t the most popular chat app the Middle Kingdom — that distinction goes to local success story Tencent’s WeChat — the app does have a sizeable following in China. It’s popular amongst expats and those working for Taiwanese or Japanese firms. Chat apps tend to follow geopolitical alliances, with Line being the chat app of choice in Japan and Nippon-aligned Taiwan. In Hong Kong, Whatsapp is the most popular chat app but WeChat has been gaining ground as the former British colony drifts further towards China.

According to Want China Times, Line works for users that have a VPN enabled. The service is returning to normal, but is reportedly still unreliable for many in China. Line’s parent company, Naver, hasn’t yet released an official statement only stating that technical problems prohibit the service from functionally properly.

Reportedly, Korean chat app Kakotalk has also been blocked.

Sources: Want China TimesTechinAsia