Japanese chat app Line a victim of blacklisting in China?

The popular instant messaging app has been out of service on the Chinese mainland since the night of July 1, and shows no sign of recovery.

Line is likely to have been blacklisted on the Chinese mainland, because the app was still accessible to people who use a proxy server, according to a report on BBC’s Chinese website.

The BBC concluded the Japanese app has been given the same treatment as other overseas social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, which have been blocked by China's “Great Firewall”.

At 8:45 am on July 2, Line announced on its official Weibo account that Chinese users have encountered difficulty accessing services, and it is trying its best to fix the problem. Since that announcement, Line’s Chinese Weibo account has been silent.

The announcement has been forwarded almost 5,000 times with some 6,600 comments as of 4:30 pm on July 3. While many people complain they are unable to access the services, some comments try to explain to others how to bypass the blockade, including changing mobile terminals’ DNS settings.

While claiming 400 million users worldwide, Line's Chinese mainland user figures aren't broken out.  It's likely they may not be impressive given Line’s offerings are similar to Chinese tech giant Tencent’s popular app WeChat, which claims 396 active users, mostly on the Chinese mainland, as at the end of March this year.

On June 30, Line’s service was down in Taiwan, affecting over 17 million users. But the service resumed in just one hour, unlike the enduring mass shutdown on the Chinese mainland according to a Tech News report.

A Sohu tech report questions the current “technical failure” and says the “incident”, which has successfully provided media coverage for the less-known app, was suspiciously-timed. Line officially announced just days ago it will establish an operation inside China .  The whole incident seems to be “well-prepared” said the report.