WeChat’s last night in the United States
“I have to quickly empty the money in my wallet,” Hao, who lives in Manhattan, sent a WeChat message to a reporter from Geek Park in Beijing. The reason was a ban by the Trump administration.
In fact, the ban was issued as early as 45 days ago. At that time, the Trump administration restricted Douyin and WeChat’s “transactions” in the United States on the grounds of national security, but did not specify the scope of the “transactions”. After 45 days, the ban was clear.
On September 18, the US Department of Commerce issued a statement stating:
1. Starting from September 20th, TikTok and WeChat will be removed from the app store
2. U.S. companies are required to close WeChat payment channels
3. Enterprises are not allowed to provide any Internet hosting, content distribution, data transmission and exchange services for WeChat in the United States, nor are they allowed to embed WeChat codes and functions into other software to provide services in disguise
On August 6, 45 days ago, in the WeChat Moments, people left their email, Facebook, Telegram, Line and other contact methods to prevent netizens from “losing contact.” After 45 days, the time limit for the ban is approaching, and “WeChat ban” has once again become a hot topic. After all, for Chinese living in the United States, using WeChat to communicate with relatives and friends in China is already their daily routine.
Worried about losing contact, but also worried about derailment
Since this is a quiet lengthy article, we have added a table of contents for easier navigation.
Both Hao and Kevin worked in investment banks in Manhattan. Both were born in the 90s. After studying in the United States, they stayed in the United States to work. Their parents and grandparents were all in China, and they also retained their domestic social circles.
In their daily lives, they basically rely on WeChat to communicate with relatives and friends in China, and Facebook Messenger to communicate with friends abroad. In the past two days, WeChat has been banned as a hot topic among international students. Hao and Kevin have different views on how to contact the country after being banned.
“I’m not too worried. There are so many Chinese programmers in the United States. They can definitely come up with some cracking methods, using loopholes or other ways. I think there must be a way.” For the future of WeChat ban, Hao Maintain an optimistic attitude. But despite this, she still exercised some countermeasures in her heart.
Since the Trump administration’s ban requires “WeChat to be removed from the app store”, as long as the WeChat application is not updated, the WeChat currently installed on mobile phones can still be used. “I will definitely be very careful not to click the update button.” Hao even thought of an extreme countermeasure-buying a new mobile phone for daily use, and using the old mobile phone exclusively for WeChat.
Unlike Hao’s optimism, Kevin is worried about a larger dimensional “diameter.” “If you can’t get on WeChat, you will get farther and farther away from people in China. You don’t know what they are doing, what they are watching, and what is popular in their lives. Then you will fall behind with them.” Kevin I am worried that because of policy reasons, Chinese people will be discriminated overseas, and because they have severed ties with China, they will gradually become unpopular in China.
As for whether WeChat Pay will have an impact on life after being disabled, Hao and Kevin both said that there is almost no. “I have almost never seen merchants that can pay by WeChat on the streets of New York. I have seen those that can pay by WeChat on some websites, but very few,” said Hao, a shopping expert.
Jack is a software engineer living in Silicon Valley, and WeChat is the only way for him to contact his parents in China. “I have taught them to use QQ before, but WeChat is relatively simple. Now we use WeChat.” If Jack cannot use WeChat in the United States, it means that he is completely out of touch with his parents.
Fortunately, Jack is in the computer industry. He transferred to the United States four years ago, so he retained the WeChat account and Apple App Store account registered with his domestic mobile phone. He is not too worried about WeChat being blocked. Because if WeChat is removed from the App Store, he can switch back to the Chinese App Store account to download. Even if the Trump administration monitors the traffic and cuts off all traffic from WeChat, he can still use it over the wall.
“I am not very worried about not being able to use WeChat. I am more troubled by various rumors.” In some of Jack’s colleagues, some people have frequently reposted some “interpretations” recently. An article stated that the Trump administration can automatically delete WeChat in personal mobile phones. There are also articles that allow readers to turn off the “auto-refresh” function of the mobile phone background.
“People with a little bit of common sense won’t believe it, but there are really many people who are turning.” Even though he lives in Silicon Valley, where computer talents are densest, Jack still frequently receives such information from his colleagues. He feels very troubled. “There are also various interpretations by lawyers, from the legal level of countermeasures, I will not look at these, I think it was a waste of time.”
Compared to rumors, Jack is more worried about Tencent’s next reaction. “When India banned WeChat, Tencent chose to end its services in India.” Jack worries that if Tencent takes the same measures in the United States, the situation will be much more complicated for those who do not have a WeChat account in China.
Rebuild Baoma Group
Nan is a full-time mother in the United States. After Trump announced the ban on WeChat on August 6, the incident spread among the Baoma community.
“At that time, we built a new Baoma group in Line, as well as Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and all these can be added.” Baoma people often need group videos, so Nan and his friends even tried Zoom, “But Zoom has a 40-minute limit. When the time comes, you have to buy a member, and then we didn’t use it anymore.”
Nan doesn’t think it’s a problem to communicate with the country. “It’s okay if you don’t update it anyway. It really can’t be used at all. There is also QQ. QQ can also be used for video, and so will my parents.”
For Nan, in addition to being a tool for communicating with relatives and friends in China, WeChat is also a toy for grabbing red envelopes during the New Year. Domestic mobile phones charge up for calls.” Living in the United States, Nan does not rely heavily on WeChat Pay.
People who do daigou in the United States may find that WeChat can’t transfer money a little trouble. Nan mentioned that some of the moms who are shopping on behalf of her have added the suffix “WeChat transfers are not accepted” after their WeChat names. Since August 6th, purchasing agents are more inclined to use Alipay.
According to data from the data analysis company Apptopia, WeChat currently has 19 million daily livelihoods in the United States. According to statistics from the US statistical service provider Statista, WeChat did not rank among the top ten most popular social networks in the United States in 2019. In fact, the utilization rate of WeChat among US users is only 0.79%. In the United States, WeChat is mainly used by Chinese to contact relatives and friends in China, and a small number of users are foreigners who love Chinese culture.
Therefore, the WeChat ban in the United States this time, at the user level, most affected the communication between Chinese and the mainland. During the interview, whether it was Hao, Kevin, or Jack and Nan, they did not show undue concern about this. In terms of WeChat payment, since the use of WeChat payment in the United States is almost zero, the impact on Chinese people living in the United States is not significant.
After the Ministry of Commerce announced the implementation of the “ban” on September 18, Tencent later issued a statement saying, “It is regrettable that no consensus has been reached, but it will continue to communicate and seek long-term solutions.”
People probably know that reaching a consensus will always take “long-term”.
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