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In Uber’s Quest to Win Over China, Tencent Blocks the Way

The car-booking company speaks out for the first time about getting blocked by WeChat, saying foreign rivals are thwarting competition

China’s dominant ride-hailing app has powerful friends. Among the backers of the car-booking app Didi Kuaidi is Tencent, owner of the country’s most popular messaging app, WeChat. The service’s more than 600 million active users, most of whom reside in China, use the app to communicate with friends, as well as receive updates and coupons from many of their favorite domestic and foreign brands—with one major exception.

Uber is nowhere to be found on WeChat. The company says its accounts began to disappear from the service on March 16, starting with its customer support profile in Hangzhou and then Beijing the next day. Over the next few months, Tencent had banned or frozen all of Uber’s accounts on WeChat, says Emil Michael, the senior vice president for business at Uber. The San Francisco company is speaking out for the first time about the practice.