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Tencent’s WeChat suspends new user registration in China to comply with ‘relevant laws and regulations’

Tencent’s WeChat said on Tuesday it is temporarily suspending registration of new users in China as it works to comply with “relevant laws and regulations,” the latest Chinese firm to face regulatory scrutiny in the world’s largest internet market.

In a social media post, Tencent said it is “upgrading” its security technology to align with all relevant laws and regulations and while this process in underway “registration of new Weixin personal and official accounts has been temporarily suspended.”

“Registration services will be restored after the upgrade is complete, which is expected in early August,” the company, which has amassed over 1.2 billion monthly active users in China as of earlier this year, said in a statement.

It’s not immediately clear which law WeChat is citing in its announcement but the move comes at a time amid a broad crackdown on tech firms by Chinese regulators. The crackdown has wiped hundreds of billions of dollars in market cap for Chinese firms and many high-profile global investors including SoftBank are impacted.

This is the first time WeChat, which operates as a super-app in China, has had to take a step of this kind in more than a decade.

Some analysts believe that the Chinese government is concerned about the growing influence of tech firms in the country and also the privacy of its citizens’ data.

This is a developing story. More to follow…