For Chinese-Americans, WeChat Ban Threatens Their Ties to Home

For Chinese-Americans, WeChat Ban Threatens Their Ties to Home

On Thursday of this weekend, the Trump administration issued a pair of executive orders banning transactions with Chinese social networks, WeChat and Tiktok – until they come up with a resolution that the US will be back within 45 days National security is not a threat. .

While Microsoft hopes to pull out TikTok, WeChat’s future in the United States hangs in the balance. Sudden and uncertain circumstances have sent a wave of terror through 3.8 million members of the Chinese diaspora in the country, to whom WeChat is the only link to return home to their friends and family in China.

A period of upheaval for Chinese-Americans

24-year-old software engineer Gwen Decker of Boston and his wife, an immigrant from China, regularly turn to WeChat to keep in touch and talk with the latter’s family. “He is very close to his parents, and the video calls his mom almost every day. My wife is already doing her best in a foreign country, cutting off contact with her parents too much for her Will happen.

Moments after Trump’s executive order was signed, people of Chinese origin in the United States scrambled to tell their loved ones about the potential ban and shared their alternative contact information in social groups on WeChat for years. Are part – and may soon disappear from.

Since most people in China sign up for WeChat the first time they log in to the Internet, they do not desist from storing contacts on their phones. Therefore, Trump’s ban became official, U.S. The first task for these WeChat users in I was only to share their local phone numbers and email addresses with friends and families.

WeChat is non-comparable among Chinese. It is the most important social network or, for some, the most important app, ”says postdoctoral researcher Xiaoran Sun of the Stanford Data Science Institute. “I have many friends as contacts on WeChat and I don’t need to keep their phone numbers because we use WeChat as the primary communication channel.”

No replacement for super-apps like WeChat

A devastating effect would be the true extent of a WeChat ban, however, far beyond what many think. Approximately 19 million users, WeChat does not have a huge user base relative to other platforms in the United States. But for millions of Chinese-Americans and immigrants, that’s all.

Because WeChat is more than just an IM service. It is a super app – a term reserved for hub-like platforms that provide a variety of core functions. For example, Facebook is a social network. Apple’s iMessage is for texting. WeChat is a social network, a messaging service, a payment platform, an e-commerce marketplace, and more, all packaged into a single app.

So how do you even like an app? The answer is you can’t

“My WeChat is my Rolodex and my protector. It is a year of negotiation, financial transactions and job communication. This is basically my email, phone, text, bank, twitter, and more, all rolled into one. An email conversation with Digital Trends stated that 34-year-old actor Matt William Knowles from Los Angeles, who works frequently, has no other option.

There are no natural alternatives to WeChat, and losing access to it will dramatically decrease relations with the home for Chinese-Americans. They will not be able to keep updates from their communities and they will not lose touch with friends and family who do not necessarily talk every other day. Western platforms such as Facebook or WhatsApp are all blocked in China.

WeChat users in the US also rely on the app for payment and for sending or receiving money from home – especially students who have moved 7,000 miles worldwide in the United States.

“My wife also uses it to transfer money to people for second-hand buying and selling. This is particularly useful for people who only visit the U.S. Going into India, where there are very limited resources to help foreigners navigate how to live in this country, ”said Decker.

If the United States goes ahead with an end-to-end ban on WeChat, only workarounds will have to be resorted to over VPNs.

But no one knows if a VPN will allow you to circumvent the restriction. Therefore, in anticipation of the indefinite ban, young Chinese immigrants to the US have also begun to teach their parents and other relatives how to operate an alternative app such as VPN or iMessage that works without a VPN, according to Apple’s Limited to owners. However, it has been a challenge, to say the least.

In more ways than one, WeChat is Internet for Chinese citizens. Many, mainly older generations, are not even familiar with any alternative platforms.

Journalist Daffen Lee of New York City and Taipei is concerned about how he will guide his elderly family members from afar to go to another stage.

“They’re not really moving to other platforms, because they’re not that tech-savvy. Some of them literally mean WeChat. She said some of my relatives wouldn’t even know what a VPN is.

What’s more, it is not about communication with people in China. Chinese-Americans depend on WeChat to network in their local communities and coordinate ceremonies and events for Chinese festivals. These groups and conversations also have to be transferred to other platforms.

“Because many first-generation Chinese immigrants rely on the app, it will also be a hindrance for the organized community within Chinese American communities. Although they are free to switch to other platforms, the networks already are, ”Tianyu M., a freelance writer and journalist from Boston. Fung told Digital Trends.

A virtual bridge to the house collapses

More importantly, due to the similar nature of President Trump’s executive order, none of them knows what to expect. While most have started gearing up for a complete ban, there are still some who are optimistic and are hoping that it will play in favor of WeChat in any way before the set deadline.

However, all of them feel that their own country is changing its course from them, and the move is careless that the growing state of a prejudiced society is just one more installment. As the coronavirus virus grinds the epidemic, the frequency of their interactions with people back in China has also increased, and a WeChat ban will completely cripple that communication bridge.

“Already the epidemic put a damper on communication with my Chinese friends and colleagues. With all travel restrictions, the world feels more alone than ever. WeChat’s ban will make the situation worse.

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