Despite being banned by the Chinese government, Japan’s LINE app refuses to let itself be bullied into oblivion in the country and recently opened a shop in Beijing’s Sanlitun Village as a way to circumvent the block.
LINE’s characters, such as Brown, are there, and the shop sells merchandise portraying him and the others. These characters are quite well known in the region, so the popularity of the merchandise should be equally high.
LINE characters are well known in the region, so the popularity of the merchandise should be equally high
The block occurred as new regulations imposed by China’s State Internet Information Office (SIIO) require users of instant messaging apps to sign up with their real names, and to seek permission before publishing political news. This meant that LINE and South Korea’s KakaoTalk no longer work in the country, but China’s own WeChat continues to function.
LINE was blocked in China in early July as a way for the government to “fight terrorism,” though no evidence of how true this is has been provided.
LINE is working on expanding into America with a focus on localized gaming and stickers. The app has over 400 million registered users worldwide, which is just a short step behind WeChat’s 438 million active users and WhatsApp’s 500 million active users.
Photo: Francis Bea/CNET