China blocks WhatsApp service

China blocks WhatsApp service

As authorities in China tighten their grip on the internet ahead of a major leadership reshuffle in Beijing, popular messaging service WhatsApp has partially been blocked.

Photo, video and voice messages sent by the Guardian from Beijing were all blocked on Wednesday, but text messages were not affected. Dozens of users in China complain of a total ban on sending any type of messages on WhatsApp.

The ban comes as Chinese officials are preparing for a twice-a-decade leadership shuffle later this year, with various factions within the Communist party jockeying for control of key positions and president Xi Jinping likely to further consolidate power.

However, the company declined to comment on the latest partial ban by Chinese authorities.

China operates the world's largest censorship system, known as the Great Firewall, blocking thousands of websites including popular platforms such as Facebook, Google, Instagram, YouTube and a host of foreign news outlets.