For many Hollywood companies with ties to China, WeChat is the indispensable link to the country’s 1.4 billion people.
The app, owned by Shenzhen-based Tencent, is essential to daily modern life in China. It’s a digital payment service, social network and a messaging service all in one — used for everything from buying tickets at Shanghai Disneyland to negotiating brand deals worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Few even bother to trade old-fashioned phone numbers: They stay in touch with WeChat accounts.
So when President Trump signed an executive order this month barring U.S. firms from transactions over WeChat starting Sept. 20 because of purported national security concerns, that left some entertainment executives and investors scrambling to find an alternative. U.S. businesses, including Disney and Apple, voiced their concerns in a call with White House officials last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Every American who does business in China is about to wonder how they are going to be in touch with people in China,” said a talent manager who negotiated nearly $1-million worth of deals over WeChat last year between American celebrities and brands.
“I don’t have phone numbers. I don’t have email addresses. I just have WeChat — that’s the norm,” said the manager, who declined to be named, citing the potential impact on his business relationships.
Severing WeChat from U.S. businesses could suddenly cut off