US President Donald Trump passed on the decision last week banning the Chinese app WeChat and prohibiting all American firms from doing business with it. This has sent shockwaves piercing through the Chinese community in United States. The popular app WeChat has never been just a chatting app for Chinese away from their homes, but a way to stay connected with friends and families back in China.
The app which has over a billion users is used as a social networking platform and also for plethora of daily activities like shopping, gaming and also dating. A Shanghai resident said, “WeChat has become the ‘it’ tool for Chinese speaking people, no matter where you are around the world.”
But WeChat has been viewed with a censorship history and is regarded a key component of Chinese government’s internal surveillance network. Last December, a Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang was reprimanded by the police after he tried to warn his network regarding the Covid-19 initial outbreak on WeChat. Similar allegations have been put forth by Toronto-based research group Citizen Lab, which also found the app being censoring information sent related to Coronavirus outbreak.
The success of WeChat among Chinese people can be partly attributed to banning of similar American apps like WhatsApp in China.
In the executive order signed by President Donald Trump, he labelled the Chinese app a threat to US national security and accused it of accumulating swathes of information on users, thereby threatening privacy of US nationals.
In a similar trajectory of app ban like TikTok in US, the WeChat app owner TenCent has been ordered to either sell the app to US firm by mid-September or face a ban in the country.
The move of banning WeChat, which is considered a symbol of China’s innovation in technology, is being viewed as an attack on China’s culture and people. Beijing is also accusing US of exerting supremacy and domination citing reasons of national security. The people belonging to Chinese community in the US are worried by this move, not only because of loss of a way to contact their loved ones back home but also what does it mean for the stress-laden relations between US and China, which are just worsening with time.
Read more articles: https://www.diplomacy24.com/category/global/