Chinese technology company Tencent has blocked Uber from its messaging app WeChat once again, the latest blow to the ride-hailing company in its quest to win over China.
Reports emerged on Friday that Tencent had "permanently" blocked all Uber WeChat accounts. The company is a major investor in Didi Kuaidi, a merger of two ride sharing companies and major competitor to Uber in China. This is not the first time Uber has run into this problem: It was blocked from WeChat temporarily in March, which Uber called an effort to thwart a "competitive environment." It is unclear if the company is indeed permanently banned from WeChat but Motherboard confirmed with an Uber spokesperson that the company is blocked from the app at this time.
Tencent claims Uber was banned for "malicious marketing activities," but an Uber representative said on the company's Weibo account that there is no proof to back up those allegations. He asked supporters to stand with Uber, China Daily reported.
The move is the latest setback for Uber in its quest to gain a foothold in the country, where Didi Kuaidi provides ride hailing in 259 cities. Uber, by comparison, only operates in 20 cities. The Chinese ride hailing company was valued at $16 billion in early December and said it plans to expand to 400 total cities in the next three months. US-based Uber competitor Lyft also announced a partnership this week with Didi Kuaidi to expand into China.
Uber previously allocated $1 billion to expand into China, but has run into a variety of roadblocks since then, including competitors and regulations. Uber said in September it plans to expand to 100 cities in China over the next year.