Why Trump’s pressure to ban WeChat would be difficult for the Chinese diaspora


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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.

[Read: The US is banning TikTok and WeChat — but the benefits won’t outweigh the costs]

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.

A woman holding a phone and a cup of coffee sits in a cafe.