US President Donald Trump’s ban on transactions using the popular Chinese messaging app (WeChat) cuts ties with families and friends in China, and millions of users in the United States fear, as they have become the latest victims of the confrontation between the two countries.
WeChat, owned by Chinese internet giant Tencent, is popular with Chinese students, expatriates, and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China.
The most popular messaging apps in the United States, including WhatsApp, Messenger and Telegram, are blocked in China.
The ban has severed more than 6 million Chinese living in the United States with their families in China.
In the past three months, WeChat had an average of 19 million daily active users in the United States, according to data from analytics firms (Apptopia).
Expatriates are preparing backup plans while in America, as some WeChat users have started sharing backup copies of contacts with a limited number of applications still available in China, including Microsoft’s Skype and LinkedIn.
Others plan to do what they are doing in China by circumventing the Great Firewall, the system for blocking foreign applications in China, using virtual private networks (VPNs), which anonymize the user over a public network.
One user said: I need to use (VPN) to get Gmail and Instagram to work when I’m in China, and I never imagined that I needed to do similar things in the US.
And some overseas Chinese in America are concerned that this is only the latest blow in the souring US-China relationship.
“My parents were more concerned about me when they saw the news,” said one employee. “They asked me to seriously consider returning to China in the current political environment.”
The US President had issued executive orders prohibiting US dealings with the two Chinese technology companies, Tencent and ByteDance.
Tencent owns the Chinese messaging app (WeChat), while ByteDance is the parent company of the widely popular short video sharing app Tik Tok. The ban will take effect within 45 days and may be met with retaliation from Beijing.