China users report WhatsApp disruption amid censorship fears

BEIJING (AP) — Users of WhatsApp in China are reporting widespread service disruptions amid fears that the popular messaging service may be blocked at least partially by Chinese authorities.

WhatsApp users on the mainland reported Tuesday on other social media platforms that the messaging app was inaccessible without virtual private network software used to circumvent China's censorship apparatus, known colloquially as The Great Firewall.

It appeared that users in China could send texts over WhatsApp without VPNs but not images.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said he had no information on the issue when asked by reporters.

Facebook, which owns WhatsApp, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

China blocked Telegram, another messaging service, in 2015 after it became a popular platform for activists and dissidents to share information.