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Trump's WeChat ban angers US users

(Global Times)    09:21, August 12, 2020

WeChat users in the US are fuming at US President Donald Trump's signing of an executive order that could ban the app, saying he is putting politics ahead of people's interests.

The potential banning of the app, which racks up a billion daily uses mainly in China, is seen as a direct affront to the Chinese community, making people of Chinese descent considering leaving the US.

Users are now transferring contact lists to QQ, LINE and similar apps to avoid losing. For many Chinese in the US, WeChat is their main tool to keep in close contact with their family and friends in China. Even considering banning WeChat makes them feel they're not welcome in the US.

"I'm worried Trump's WeChat ban will cause me a lot of inconvenience when I try contacting my parents in China. I video chat with them every day through WeChat," a 28-year-old Chinese woman who has been studying and working in Los Angeles for six years, told the Global Times on Monday.

The woman said many of her friends are transferring their contact information to have video chats via Skype or use a VPN which could allow them to continue to access WeChat.

It remains unclear if Trump's executive order can actually prevent people who now have the app on their devises from using it, or will the president's order only force the app off download platforms.

Beyond the banning of WeChat, the woman in LA said she's disappointed with the Trump administration which is always taking measures against immigration to gain political influence.

The one-sided and biased understanding toward WeChat in an New York Times article with the headline Is TikTok More of a Parenting Problem Than a Security Threat? was ridiculed by many Wechat users, who asked the NYT to hire someone who has actually used WeChat.

"It shows that some American politicians and media just smear China and Chinese companies without basic objective research and rational professionalism, which makes me anxious that my life and future in the US is unstable," the woman said.

She is considering developing her career outside the US as the so-called openness and inclusiveness of the country are gradually disappearing.

People's parents in China are also worried about the WeChat ban as WeChat is the only way for them to contact their children in the US.

Yu Xiaotong, a 30-year-old Chinese woman living in Seattle, told the Global Times that her mother urged her to download Ding Talk, another chat app developed by Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, as a backup.

Yu's mother wrote down her daughter's account numbers for Instagram, Facebook, Line and her email address on paper, to eliminate her insecurity of suddenly losing contact with her daughter on WeChat. Yu is also considering returning to China, saying the US could lose many talents.

Americans in China also have concerns about the WeChat ban.

WeChat is the main medium through which Cale Holmes, a 26-year-old American man who has been working in Beijing for 10 months, speaks with his father on a nearly daily basis. Holmes believes WeChat is the cheapest and most reliable way to keep in contact with his family in the US.

Holmes said he's spent a lot of time teaching his parents how to use WeChat. "My parents both like WeChat a lot and it gives them emotional comfort that they can use it to call me anytime," Cale told the Global Times.

He also thinks the potential WeChat ban pushes the US and China closer to the brink of conflict, and foments distrust of China among Americans who don't know any better.

"Most importantly, I think banning WeChat is dangerous. It scares Americans into thinking that anything China-related is treasonous. It feeds into the false narrative that Chinese tech companies are inherently corrupt. That narrative in turn feeds into the notion that China is a threat to the US," he noted. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Liang Jun)

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