WeChat has an average of 19 million daily active users in the USA, according to analyst firm Apptopia
The US President Donald Trump‘s 45-day ban on the popular Chinese WeChat messaging app in the US (the same goes for TikTok) will cut ties with family and friends in China to millions of US users who are in danger of becoming the latest victims in the confrontation between the two largest economies in the world.
WeChat, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent, is popular with Chinese students, expatriates in the US and some Americans who have personal or business relationships in China. The most popular messaging apps in the US, such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Telegram are blocked in China.
The ban will cut much more than the nearly 6 million Chinese living in the United States. For the past three months, WeChat has had an average of 19 million active users daily in the country, according to analyst firm Apptopia.
Expatriates in the US, who are experienced in adopting alternative means of communication to avoid firewalls in China, are preparing backup plans. Some WeChat users have started sharing their contacts in a limited number of applications that are still available in China, including Skype and Microsoft LinkedIn.
Others intend to do what they do in China to access the “Great Firewall”, also known as blocking foreign applications in China, using virtual private networks (VPNs) that hide a user’s identity on a public network.
Some Chinese expatriates in the United States worry that this is only the last of a series of episodes that will follow the ever-deteriorating US-China relationship. “My parents are more worried when they hear the news,” said Yoon Lee, a programmer in Boston. “I was also asked to seriously consider returning to China, given the current political environment,” he added.