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China's Tencent says fees for mobile chatting app unlikely: radio

Tencent headquarters is seen at Nanshan Hi-Tech Industrial Park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Tencent headquarters is seen at Nanshan Hi-Tech Industrial Park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

BEIJING (Reuters) - Tencent Holdings is unlikely to charge any fees for the use of its popular mobile chatting application, its chief executive was quoted as saying, after a cabinet minister caused an uproar by saying users might have to pay fees in future.

Tencent's Weixin, or WeChat, app is currently free and has attracted more than 300 million users.

State-owned China National Radio on Sunday quoted Tencent CEO Liu Chiping as saying at a forum in south China that his company was unlikely to charge users any fees because they already pay for Internet access.

A survey conducted at the forum showed that 71 percent of 3,000 respondents opposed paying fees for using WeChat.

Last month Caixin Media quoted Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei as saying telecoms operators might put pressure on Tencent to start charging fees for the app because of its heavy use of data bandwidth. The comment sparked anger among users.

The ministry is the regulatory body that governs the Internet and telecoms operators including China Mobile Ltd, China Unicom and China Telecom Corp.

Tencent, China's largest online gaming and social networking company, has said it plans to invest heavily in WeChat to attract more overseas users.

(Reporting by Wan Xu and Benjamin Kang Lim; editing by Jane Baird)

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