Chinese Americans Look to New Platforms as WeChat's Future Remains Uncertain

The ban "significantly weakens the fabric of the Chinese immigrant community" in America, says one expert

The WeChat logo is displayed on the screen of a smartphone in front of a Chinese flag
Chesnot/Getty Images

Back in April, when New York City was in the grips of COVID-19, Yuan Mingyue relied on WeChat to keep in touch with relatives in China, to check on their health and to share how things were in New York.

The social media app's video call function, similar to FaceTime, proved especially useful as a lifeline for Yuan, who came to the United States 10 years ago and lives in Queens, once America's center for Covid-19.

While FaceTime works for Apple customers, not everyone in China owns an iPhone or another Apple device, NBC News reports.

So when President Donald Trump's WeChat ban was to take effect Sunday — even as a federal judge temporarily put the brakes on his order — Yuan began the dizzying task, like so many other Chinese Americans, of figuring out workarounds.

"We can use other Chinese platforms, like Sina Weibo or QQ, or otherwise just make a phone call," Yuan said in Mandarin.

"I use WeChat just to send messages and videos," she said. "But I do feel it seems the ban will cause some discomfort for all Chinese people."

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