Chinese WeChat users have been left confused by Donald Trump’s order banning the popular messaging and videoing app, with some who use it to communicate with the outside world wondering how it will affect them.
The vaguely worded ban prohibits “any transaction related to WeChat” that involves its parent company Tencent.
The US President’s executive order calls on the Secretary of Commerce to define exactly what transactions are banned before the prohibition comes into force on September 20. A similar order also targets the video-sharing app TikTok.
On Weibo, a Chinese social media platform similar to Twitter, WeChat quickly became the number one trending topic as people tried to make sense of the ban. While many derided Trump’s move as “crazy,” some reacted to the news with humour.
“Ban Windows so there’s no need to go to work,” read one comment suggesting that the Chinese government ban more US software and apps in retaliation.
Apple customers in particular expressed concern about whether Trump’s order would see WeChat, the country’s dominant messaging service, removed from the Apple Store because, unlike Android users, they would have practically no other way of downloading the app or updates.
A poll on Weibo conducted by Sina’s news platform asked users to choose between switching to a new phone brand or uninstalling WeChat if they could no longer use the app on their iPhones. More than 750,000 out of the 800,000 people who responded said they would get another phone.