Trump’s ban on WeChat is nothing more than petty oppression

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Mimi Huelster

Starting on Sunday, WeChat and TikTok will no longer be permitted to download on US App Stores.

On Friday, Sept. 18th, the Trump Administration announced an official ban on downloading two Chinese apps, TikTok and WeChat, that will become effective on US App Stores starting on Sunday. While TikTok is a much more publicized app to the broader American public, especially teenagers, WeChat, is also an extremely popular messaging app with more than a billion users worldwide. Unlike some broadly used American messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or Snapchat, which are mainly used for the sole purpose of entertainment, WeChat, as one could say, is more of a lifestyle in China. There, not only does the app act as a messaging platform where you can text and video chat friends and family, post memories about your day, etc, but more importantly, it allows for the wiring of credit cards and money onto the app. Using WeChat to pay isn’t simply a payment choice in China as is using PayPal in America, but it’s the only transaction choice in many situations. Yes, that’s right. Whether it be grocery shopping or paying for a parking ramp, Chinese society has almost become reliant on WeChat and phone payment transactions for daily life. In short, it’s become a necessity of everyday living. But however crucial it may be in China, WeChat has another essential purpose for some people residing in the United States that is quite different, yet also important to daily life- the key tool of communication between family, friends, loved ones, and any other form of connections with people in China. To these people, putting a ban on WeChat means losing accessibility to parts of their lives they dearly cherish. To US President Donald Trump and other American government officials, this decision is merely an excuse for them to boycott rising Chinese apps and success.

To US President Donald Trump and other American government officials, this decision is merely an excuse for them to boycott rising Chinese apps and success.”

While Trump’s reasoning behind banning both WeChat and TikTok is due to “national security” and data collection concerns, the impacts his decisions have and will make on many WeChat users in the states who have connections back in China, is extremely horrifying and devastating. For millions of Americans, WeChat is the source of what allows them to communicate and connect with their loved ones who are halfway around the world, in a totally different time zone. And not only loved ones, but people with business connections and acquaintances could also potentially be losing tons of opportunities and outlets for their careers that they’ve dedicated so much time and effort to. All in all, it just doesn’t make sense. Losing a platform that has such significant meaning to some Americans is painful and hard to accept especially when the ban becomes active as of Sunday.

But in any case, the factual cons of banning WeChat outweigh the “pros” of banning much more. While Trump has a right to feel that national security may be threatened if military members, high officials, and people heavily involved in the center of the political world download and use WeChat on personal mobile devices, it simply doesn’t make sense that having normal everyday civilians using WeChat has and will become a threat to national security. Instead of imposing a ban for everyone in the US, Trump could have easily just banned certain persons from the use of the app. Additionally, it’s highly improbable that what Trump is truly concerned about for US users using WeChat is the breaching of personal data.

It is more about the oppression of the Chinese markets and increasingly growing economic success which is a threat to America’s “superpower” title, leadership, and hegemony. ”

Take a look back at the previous 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, when Facebook, an American App, heavily violated privacy policies by giving out the personal data of millions of its users. During that circumstance, Trump certainly did not issue a ban on Facebook. As a matter of fact, he and his administration were even accused of using the breached Facebook data to help his election campaign two years prior in 2016.

But the unreasonable ban on WeChat, a Chinese good, isn’t the first. Similarly, back in early 2019, Trump also issued a ban on Huawei, a rising Chinese telecommunications company for multiple alleged accusations that it was spying for the Chinese government. No hard evidence has ever been found.

The true main cause behind the federal government banning Chinese apps and goods is not merely due to national security and breaching of personal intel, but it is more about the oppression of the Chinese markets and increasingly growing economic success which is a threat to America’s “superpower” title, leadership, and hegemony. America fears to become second to China, or any country as a matter of fact, in terms of technology, economics, or under any aspect. In recent years, Trump’s decisions have only generated more hostility between the two nations. The effects it’s had on the general public is also critical as distrust and dislike for Chinese apps and goods have formed in American society simply because they are… well Chinese. Looking forward to the bigger picture, Trump’s most recent issuing of a ban on TikTok and WeChat could also lead to a rabbit hole of similar activities in the future: anything that can be viewed in a “negative” light, governments can and will ban. Actions like this cannot be taken lightly whether it has a direct impact or not because it is certainly not meaningless to millions of people who feel unfairly discriminated against and lost by the ban of WeChat and other international goods and apps in the American melting pot. Standing up to voice opinions on unfair policies and facts like in this case is what people must do to make the federal government understand that their groundless actions are harming others. It’s not something that can be brushed past so easily. Recognize the hypocrisy of government actions and do something, speak up, vote to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen.

Update Sept. 20, 2020: The ban on both TikTok and WeChat was lifted early Sunday morning.