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US WeChat ban problems, more than just security

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The WeChat ban in the U.S. poses a bigger problem than just the national security of the country as the lives of Chinese immigrants are affected.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump signed two executive orders. The first was the deadline for ByteDance to divest from the country. The second was the ban on WeChat from transacting business in the U.S.

Both executive orders root from the fear of the U.S. that their national security is threatened. However, while it may or may not be true, the actual lives of people are affected in more ways than one.

TikTok creators rely on the app for their livelihood. Banning the app would mean pulling the rug from under their feet. WeChat users, on the other hand, rely on the app for their life. It is their one-stop-shop for finances, services, and most importantly, instant messaging.

WeChat ban will affect Chinese immigrants’ lives

DigitalTrends reports that they reached out to Chinese immigrants in the U.S. They were asked how the ban will affect their lives should the ban push through. The tones of the interviews were somber.

The majority of them said that it would greatly affect their communication back home. Banning WeChat will mean they will be cut off from their families in China. To combat this issue, young immigrants are teaching their parents back home to shift to another app. Unfortunately, the choices are limited.

The majority of the apps that run in the U.S. are banned in China. The long list includes Facebook and Google. As such, the shift will only either be by email or iMessage. Either app has its drawback, which WeChat is the solution for. Again, unfortunately, the future for the app in the U.S. is bleak.

Life in one app

WeChat is essentially the internet in China. Almost everyone that has a smartphone in the country has the app downloaded. It serves the purpose of social media, search engine, ride-hailing, food delivery, and even more. Xiaoran Sun of Stanford Data Science Institute said,

“WeChat is non-comparable among Chinese. It is the most important social network or for some people, the most important app.”

While WeChat’s services are limited in the U.S., it still allows money transfers from all over the world. In other words, it makes transactions easy. It also makes sending support to Chinese students based in the U.S. a breeze for parents in China.

It remains to be seen how the future of the app will turn out in the country. However, the U.S. government is keen on clamping down on these alleged threats. As such, a diaspora is underway. It’s still a toss coin as to which app will benefit from the huge shift.

Image from WeChat/ YouTube screen capture

Steven Hung

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Steven Hung

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