PALO ALTO, U.S./HONG KONG — After the Trump administration announced it would look into banning Chinese social media apps, much of the attention focused on TikTok, the wildly popular platform for sharing short videos. But it is far from alone.
Chinese messaging giant WeChat, owned by Tencent Holdings, has also become a target of Washington’s scrutiny, and the possibility of a U.S. ban on the app is already benefiting competitors as users search for “safe” alternatives.
Li Wen is a diehard WeChat user, but when more than a dozen of her friends started setting up accounts on Line, a Japanese messaging app, in July, she decided to do the same.
“Please add me on Line in case one day you may no longer be able to reach me on WeChat,” Li posted in WeChat, along with the QR code for her new Line account.
Though the 24-year-old has been living in Los Angeles since she moved here from Jiangsu province six years ago, WeChat remains her most used app.
“The majority of my social circle are connected by WeChat,” said Li, an overseas education consultant. “Not only do I use it to talk to my family and friends back home, but most of my friends here in the U.S. chat via WeChat.”
Li, like many other WeChat users, is now worried she could lose vital online connections, both personal and professional.
“[TikTok] and WeChat are the biggest forms of censorship on the Chinese mainland, and so expect strong action on that,” White House trade