November 24, 2020

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Chinese in the shadow of the WeChat ban: from panic and helpless to prosecution

Chinese in the shadow of the WeChat ban
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“Daughter, how am I looking for you in the future?” On a quiet night in Silicon Valley, Li Bing (pseudonym) suddenly received a video call from his mother in China. In the video, the mother frowned and worried.

15 minutes ago, US President Trump just issued a “transaction” ban on WeChat and TikTok. In an instant, this news detonated major Chinese WeChat groups and public accounts and became the biggest news of the day.

In this presidential decree, Trump announced that it will prohibit any Americans from having any transactions with WeChat and its affiliated companies after 45 days. But as for the definition of “transaction”, he said it would be announced by the Secretary of Commerce 45 days later.

An ambiguous presidential ban has caused an uproar among 5 million Chinese in the United States and 19 million WeChat North American users-from panicking to switch platforms, to calming down and seeking rational discussions, to launching lawsuits with well-known American lawyers, under the shadow of the ban, The Chinese people voiced growing opposition.

Chinese in the shadow of the WeChat ban: from panic and helpless to prosecution

1. Ordinary people: a night of panic

While pretending to calmly explain the multiple meanings of “transaction”, it does not necessarily mean that WeChat cannot be used, Li Bing still reluctantly discussed with his mother what App is the best alternative communication tool.

Also receiving greetings from domestic relatives and friends is Chen Rang who works in Silicon Valley. “Five flavors are mixed,” he said to the Silicon Star. On the one hand, he felt that in accordance with Trump’s style of acting like thunder, heavy rain and little rain, this matter would ultimately “can be implemented, but two things can be done”. On the other hand, he felt that his parents who are far away in China should be appeased. Even in the bottom of his heart, there is a trace of worry about this coming true.

“After all, this result is unbearable for me, even if it seems to me the possibility is very, very small.” He said. In the end, Chen Rang still honestly registered a Telegram account and posted it in Moments, so that relatives, friends, and customers could add himself to him in case he was really “lost”.

Chen Rang told the Silicon Stars that registering for Telegram and Line is somewhat of a trend. This evening, his circle of friends was full of Telegram and Line accounts shared by Chinese friends. People in Silicon Valley are afraid of losing contact with each other overnight. After all, WeChat has become the only way for them to contact each other and their families in China for many years.

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In addition to the QR codes of these apps, there are also discussions and articles related to the ban.

Even the WeChat group of the Chinese community, where there is not much activity, began to have lively disputes. From 7pm to 2pm, more than 400 residents were in heated discussions. Hundreds of articles on different interpretations of this matter were swiped in a while.

People are trying to argue for a reason in the group: from the initial guess that the meaning of “transaction” in the ban may just not allow WeChat transfers, to suspecting that transactions may generally refer to all behaviors including downloading and use, to worrying or even affecting Tencent in the United States. Investment and so on, people’s reverie about the ban has supported thousands of discussions.

Worried, some other people calmly stated that Trump’s use of the word “deal” was deliberately vague, and it was his usual sensational tactics and bluffing methods.

All discussions focused on the word “transaction”. But Trump only wrote in the last sentence of the ban: 45 days later, the US Department of Commerce will give the definition of the transaction.

When many people are worried that there will be problems with their personal contact information, as one of the founders of Product Pub, a well-known Silicon Valley product manager organization, Mia Jiang is thinking about changes in a larger dimension.

In Silicon Valley, the Product Pub, which was founded two years ago, has more than 1,500 participants. 99% of the community is Chinese. More than half of the people and this organization are connected by two WeChat groups.

“Once WeChat is banned, we are likely to lose contact with many people.” Mia said worriedly, although she thinks it is likely that “the wind will be loud and the rain will be small.”

Just in case, Mia still notified twice in the group to let everyone download and join the Slack group that Product Pub has been almost abandoned for a long time.

In fact, Product Pub already had its own Slack group a year ago, but only about 100 members were willing to join, and almost no one interacted in it—the members were basically only active on WeChat.

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On the night of the WeChat ban, Mia and other members of Product Pub decided to notify everyone to join Slack in case WeChat suddenly becomes unavailable. In less than a week, hundreds of people have been added to the once deserted Slack group.

“For our organization, this must be a harm. After all, people are more active on WeChat. If you switch to other platforms, there will be some losses.” Mia said. But she also said that there are also some benefits on Slack-Slack’s channels are more segmented, and everyone can join channels that interest them, and the discussion may be more targeted.

2. Chinese lawyers: Trump is illegal and unconstitutional

Compared with many people, Zhu Keliang is quite calm. From the countryside all the way through thorny obstacles, and finally admitted to a well-known American law school in 1997, Zhu Keliang has now been a practicing lawyer in the United States for more than 20 years.

“A lot of Chinese customers in China and the United States suddenly contacted me overnight, worrying about the sudden loss.” Zhu Keliang sent emails to the customers to alleviate their concerns. But he was pulled into a dozen Telegram groups in one night.

Although customers, relatives and friends were extremely anxious, in his view at the time, this was nothing but Trump’s once again transforming Twitter into an irresponsible ban, which may not be implemented.

When he was busy all night and came to the office to reread the ban the next day, he found that the impact of the ban may be much more serious than he thought the night before: not only the American Chinese, but also the American Tourists traveling, and American residents visiting relatives in China.

Once the ban is implemented, his lawyer business will be seriously affected, because two-thirds of his current clients are Chinese users, and WeChat is also an important tool for everyone to contact each other.

At this time, more and more people in the group of Chinese lawyers he was in were also worried.

What makes these lawyers change from calm to talking is a detail of the ban: “These measures… are based on the Presidential Decree of May 15, 2019…”

On the night of the WeChat ban, Mia and other members of Product Pub decided to notify everyone to join Slack in case WeChat suddenly becomes unavailable. In less than a week, hundreds of people have been added to the once deserted Slack group.

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“For our organization, this must be a harm. After all, people are more active on WeChat. If you switch to other platforms, there will be some losses.” Mia said. But she also said that there are also some benefits on Slack-Slack’s channels are more segmented, and everyone can join channels that interest them, and the discussion may be more targeted.

2. Chinese lawyers: Trump is illegal and unconstitutional

Compared with many people, Zhu Keliang is quite calm. From the countryside all the way through thorny obstacles, and finally admitted to a well-known American law school in 1997, Zhu Keliang has now been a practicing lawyer in the United States for more than 20 years.

“A lot of Chinese customers in China and the United States suddenly contacted me overnight, worrying about the sudden loss.” Zhu Keliang sent emails to the customers to alleviate their concerns. But he was pulled into a dozen Telegram groups in one night.

Although customers, relatives and friends were extremely anxious, in his view at the time, this was nothing but Trump’s once again transforming Twitter into an irresponsible ban, which may not be implemented.

When he was busy all night and came to the office to reread the ban the next day, he found that the impact of the ban may be much more serious than he thought the night before: not only the American Chinese, but also the American Tourists traveling, and American residents visiting relatives in China.

Once the ban is implemented, his lawyer business will be seriously affected, because two-thirds of his current clients are Chinese users, and WeChat is also an important tool for everyone to contact each other.

At this time, more and more people in the group of Chinese lawyers he was in were also worried.

What makes these lawyers change from calm to talking is a detail of the ban: “These measures… are based on the Presidential Decree of May 15, 2019…”