Chinese Americans are anxiously waiting to hear whether the Trump administration’s efforts to block WeChat in the US will succeed.
Donald Trump released Executive order On August 6, he put the Chinese-owned app into the line of fire, claiming it was a “threat” to the national security of the United States. Pay the order US Department of Commerce To take action to propose banning WeChat from US app stores and ban money transfers using the app. This move was met Dread By many Chinese Americans, who rely on the app as their source of news and communication with family and friends in China.
On September 20, a few days before the executive order came into effect, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction on the ban, resulting in temporary relief for the Chinese diaspora. But the Trump administration has since done so Submit an appeal, Which indicates a determination to pursue the ban and leave WeChat users in America unsure of the app’s future.
Multiple applications in one
WeChat, like TikTok video sharing application, Has been escalating Trade tensions And growth Geopolitical rivalry Between the United States and China. Data ownership and digital technology companies behind the popular apps have taken center stage.
While Tiktok has a strong presence in the United States, with an estimated user base of 100 million users, the use of WeChat is highly concentrated in the American-Chinese community, with an average monthly user base in the United States. 19 million daily active users. However, WeChat is a giant in the global app market, with more than 1.2 billion monthly active users In the second quarter of 2020.
The multiple functionality of WeChat makes it difficult to characterize it in terms of platforms familiar to Western audiences. This single app provides text, voice and video communication between different types of social networks, games, QR code scanning, taxi calling, mobile commerce, and phone payment functions.
Its primary function, UniverseSimilar to WhatsApp – it allows users to create a group of up to 500 members, send text, voice, photo and video messages to the group and organize group calls. Pengyouquan (Similar to Facebook posts) It enables users to share updates, while Gongzhonghao (Official Accounts) Similar to Twitter, it allows individuals, government, media, and organizations to create official accounts and feeds. The app’s commercial functionality also makes it similar to apps like Apple Pay and Paypal.
With its massive user base and this set of functions, WeChat is an essential feature of daily life in China. It’s one of the relatively few apps available in and outside of China – and a vital overseas link for friends, family, and news from home.
WeChat and Guanxi
In our region Research When using WeChat by Chinese citizens living in the UK, it was evident how important the app was in their daily life. Participants discussed using WeChat “every minute” and told us: “Checking for updates on WeChat is the first thing I do in the morning and the last thing I do before going to bed in the evening.” Search from Australia It shows that the app is being used in similar ways there as well.
Politically, WeChat serves a rather delicate function. On the one hand, it can be an effective way to raise awareness and mobilization on issues affecting people’s lives. On the other hand, the platform is awash in Long-standing concerns About censorship and surveillance, which can prevent discussions that challenge authority.
It’s also a space where the focus is on pragmatism – and where social ties, or Guanxi In the Chinese context, they constructed. Guanxi It refers to a combination of social and cultural components such as trustworthiness, reputation, reciprocity, and the commitment that can be Make or break the status of people in Chinese society. Guanxi It provides a means for people to develop social relationships and exchange services with others – WeChat provides the only platform for many Chinese to maintain such social relationships abroad.
Five Chinese American attorneys soon adopted to resist the executive order banning WeChat, and who established the WeChat User Alliance in the United States (USWUA). It was this group that initiated the legal challenge of the Executive Order on the grounds that WeChat is not only a primary network for Chinese Americans to run business and engage in diaspora community life but also the only way for Chinese Americans to keep in touch with family friends in China.
Michael Bayan, who represents USWUA, has a Argued That the proposed ban violates the constitutional rights of Chinese Americans as “an isolated group that has historically been a minority that has been discriminated against in the United States, by law or in practice.”
The legal action was taken because the ban threatens the primary lifeline of communications within the community. As USWUA states on its official website: The Chinese-American community has not caused any problems in the United States. While it is unlikely that there would be widespread protests if WeChat was finally banned, doing so would cut short a vital communication tool for this community.
This article was republished from Conversation by Yan WuAssociate Professor of Media and Communications, Swansea University And the Matt WallAssociate Professor of Political and Cultural Studies, Swansea University Under a Creative Commons license. Read the The original article.