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WeChat ban could cut off key lifeline for Chinese American community

Members of the Chinese American community fear a popular way to communicate would be lost if President Trump goes through with his threatened ban of WeChat.

Many use WeChat to talk to family back in China.

“We’ll chat about everything,” said  Ming Luo who lives in California and uses WeChat to speak to her mother in China. “It’s become very essential for me, and for her too because she is 75 this year. … We cannot travel easily to see each other and also it’s pretty lonely,” Luo told the Mercury News.

WeChat is one of the few social media apps not banned or restricted in China.

“A lot of our elderly relatives just spent so long trying to figure out WeChat, and we finally feel like they’ve gotten to the point where it’s usable, and we can communicate with them — and now they have to learn a new system if we do transition off of WeChat,” Joseph Chen, 24, told The Insider.

Trump signed an executive order earlier this month banning American companies from doing business with TenCent, WeChat’s parent company as well as ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok. The president accused the Chinese-owned companies of stealing the private information from users in the U.S., including both American companies and U.S. citizens.

TikTok is one of the hottest, if not the hottest, social media apps in the country right now, especially among Gen Z. Today the company announced it will sue the Trump Administration to stop the ban, reported CBS News.

A new group called the WeChat Users Alliance says it’s also planning a lawsuit to stop the ban.

WeChat, while less known is the U.S., is especially popular with the Chinese community. Not only is it used to communicate with relatives overseas, it is also a tool of political organizing, reported KQED.

The Chinese Progressive Association, a grass roots organization in the Chinese community on both coasts, says the lost of WeChat will make it difficult to rally the community around important issues.

“We’re staying connected with these families on WeChat,” said KC Ho of CPA. Ho works with the thousands who live in Single Resident Occupancy hotels which dot Chinatown streets and neighborhoods.

Others use WeChat to reach the Chinese community for election outreach. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has a staff member whose sole responsibility is to connect with Chinese voters on social media. Her office told KQED more Chinese voters use WeChat to speak to the mayor than by phone or email.

It is especially important for the monolingual Cantonese and Mandarin-speaking Chinese. WeChat is such an essential tool many say they aren’t sure how they will connect with the Chinese community without WeChat.


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