Mar 18, 2021 WeChat and QQ are two convenient communication apps for travelers in China. You can use them to get in touch with your friends and family in your country, contact your tour guide in China, or meet new friends in China. You can install them on your phone, computer, or tablet, and they are available for iOS or Android. Description WeChat is a messaging and calling app that allows you to easily connect with family & friends across countries. It's the all-in-one communications app for text (SMS/MMS), voice and video calls, and files. MULTIMEDIA MESSAGING: Send video, image, text, and file messages.
Sep 14, 2015 It’s one that many users in the West have never heard of – but should understand: WeChat, a Chinese instant messaging app. Owned by Tencent Holdings, WeChat has evolved from a simple social media application used to chat and share photos into a behemoth of a platform offering everything from peer-to-peer payments, taxi hailing, movie. Deloitte China network of firms, backed by the global Deloitte network, deliver a full range of audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory services to local, multinational and growth enterprise clients in China.© Getty WeChat users sue to block Trump ban on Chinese app
A group of WeChat users is suing the Trump administration in an attempt to block enforcement of an executive order that would effectively ban the popular Chinese messaging app in the United States.
In a lawsuit filed on Friday in federal court in San Francisco, the nonprofit group WeChat Users Alliance and some of the app's users claimed that the executive action violates several of their constitutional rights while also destroying an 'irreplaceable cultural bridge' for those who use the app to connect with family and friends in China.
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The complaint asked the court to declare the executive order unconstitutional and to block the administration from moving forward with its implementation. The plaintiffs said that WeChat and its Chinese parent company, Tencent Holdings, were not affiliated with the legal effort.
'In short, the threatened displacement of these WeChat users from their public space is an irreparable harm that requires judicial intervention,' the lawsuit said.
President Trump in early August signed a pair of executive orders targeting WeChat and TikTok, the short-form video app owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, on grounds that they posed a threat to national security and foreign policy. The order declared a ban on all U.S. transactions with the companies starting on Sept. 20, which will likely affect the apps' placement on the Google and Apple app stores.
Under the order, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will identify the transactions that will be barred once it goes into effect. However, the lawsuit argues that the vagueness of the initial order leaves 'individuals and companies at a loss' as to whether they will risk civil or criminal penalties 'if they do not fundamentally change the way they communicate or run their businesses.
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They asked the court to stay the implementation date of any penalty provisions from the order 'until a reasonable time after' more information is offered on what U.S. transactions will be prohibited.
Friday's lawsuit came just a day before TikTok, which boasts more than 100 million users in the U.S., announced its plans to move forward with a complaint against the administration.
'To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the Executive Order through the judicial system,' a TikTok spokesperson told The Hill, noting that Trump's decision lacked 'due process' and 'paid no attention to facts.'
A TikTok employee is also mounting a legal challenge on behalf of U.S.-based workers. Patrick Ryan, a technical manager at TikTok, said 1,500 U.S. employees are at risk of not receiving paychecks once a ban on transactions goes into effect.
Trump invoked national security and cited concerns about the collections of user data from Chinese-linked companies while issuing the orders earlier this month.
In addition to its constitutional claims, the WeChat users alleged that the White House has provided no evidence to support its position.
WeChat has roughly 19 million daily active users in the United States, including approximately 1 billion monthly active users worldwide, according to the lawsuit. The app is commonly used by students and expats to communicate with people back in China, where apps including Facebook and WhatsApp are blocked.
From behind 'The Great Firewall' emerges a whole new type of app. Say hello to WeChat
By David Kiriakidis
If you’re reading this in the UK, Europe, America, or in fact, almost anywhere in the world, chances are you’ve never used a Chinese app. In fact, chances are you can’t even name one.
In a world where many of us rely on platforms like Facebook, Google and YouTube on a daily basis, it can be hard for us to imagine life without them. In China, however, a country once known for its cheap knock-offs and imitation products, this is reality. But it’s not a reality where citizens are deprived of basic social communication, as you might imagine. Far from it. Behind ‘The Great Firewall’ of China lies a parallel universe of industrial and scientific advancements that allows us to glimpse into an alternate vision of technology as we know it, as it could be and what it may yet become.
The China of today is a far cry from the unsettled and politically unstable country of the 1980’s. The economic and social changes that arose after the Mao era led to a huge proportion of the country’s younger generation becoming disenfranchised with the political elite, and worried about what the future may hold for them. Questions about the legitimacy of the ruling party, rumoured corruption amongst high ranking bureaucrats and unrest surrounding the reforms introduced by the communist party led to a social uprising, immortalized by the image of an unknown protestor standing defiantly in front of a column of tanks.
Borne out of these troubling times, however, grew a burgeoning economy, strong infrastructure and investment in technological and scientific research that has, behind closed doors, established China as a global superpower. ‘The Great Firewall’ has allowed the country to forge its own path in terms of technology, a path that appears to be absent of the platforms we’ve come to take for granted, such as Google, Twitter and eBay. But it’s not completely absent of them. Instead, China is taking a technological path that looks very similar, but is built very differently.
Copycat apps to Super-apps
The problem with trying to maintain what is, effectively, a shield around your country is that when websites and apps such as these become as big as they are, they traverse geographical borders, language barriers and cultural differences. It’s similar to when your neighbour gets a new car, or a new lawnmower. However much you don’t need a new car or lawnmower, you want one. You become envious. And however much the Chinese government attempted to shield its citizens from the western world, there was no hiding the emergence and increasing importance of platforms such as WhatsApp, PayPal and Uber, amongst many others.
The other problem is that in the western world we have laws and regulations around privacy and data protection that simply don’t exist in communist-led China. Platforms developed in the western world just wouldn’t work in China, as the government would be largely unable to monitor everything. The solution? Create ‘copycat apps’ that are incredibly similar to their western counterparts but approved and monitored by the Chinese government. For Google, there’s Baidu. For YouTube, Youku. For Twitter, Sina Weibo. And the list goes on. Huge swathes of the internet as we know it have been blocked by ‘The Great Firewall’, but an ever-growing number of imitation websites have emerged that enable the Chinese Government to control citizens’ access to the internet.
As these copycat apps began to emerge, app developers from Sydney to Stockholm dismissed them as imitations, or state-run ‘puppet apps’ that let the Chinese government keep tabs on its citizens. The path that these apps took, however, started to turn heads amongst the Silicon Valley hierarchy. The once derided Chinese apps were being seen as a glimpse of the future. They were starting to shed the moniker of ‘copycat app’. But most importantly, one of them was becoming the world’s first ‘Super-App’.
A numbers game
WeChat, or Weixin in Mandarin, is quickly becoming one of the most popular multi-purpose platforms, not just in China, but the world. Released in 2011 by Chinese internet giant Tencent, WeChat boasts nearly 800 million active monthly users, and its user base has been growing consistently every single quarter to date. To put into perspective, the population of China, at the time of writing, is 1.38 billion. That’s 60 active monthly users for every 100 people. Compared to its most notable rival, , the market penetration of WeChat is incredible – the app currently boasts average market usage figures of around 64% compared to WhatsApp’s 34% market penetration worldwide.
But to those of us more familiar with its western counterparts, it’s not the figures surrounding WeChat’s usage that are interesting. It’s the actual embodiment of the app.
It's safe to say that the most ardent of technophiles will probably have at least 100 apps on their smartphone. Speaking as one of them, I am not ashamed to say that I currently have a grand total of 127 apps installed on my own device. I have Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Google Hangouts and Duo installed to cover my instant messaging needs, and that’s excluding my text messaging apps. I have Uber, Lyft, Citymapper, Waze, Tripadvisor, AirBnB and Skyscanner, all installed for when my inner globetrotter takes over. Likewise, when I’m feeling a bit peckish, I turn to one of Deliveroo, Just Eat, OpenTable, Zomato, Yelp or Urbanspoon. That’s 19 apps to cover three essential functions. WeChat? It’s got them all covered. For WeChat isn’t just the messaging app that many assume it to be. It’s a whole lot more.
Off the bat, WeChat lets users do everything you’d expect it to – instant messaging, sharing life events and chatting to family members. But its feature list extends far beyond custom emojis and profile pictures. WeChat allows you to arrange a catch-up with a friend, pre-order food from a restaurant, book a taxi to the restaurant, get directions on foot, pay for the meal (or send your friend the money), check movie times and book tickets, and also buy that coat that you’ve been after for ages that has just been put on sale. All without hitting the home button.
On the surface, this sounds amazing, at least for the user. Not only does being able to use one platform to complete various different tasks throughout the day save time, it also makes using your phone that little bit easier and provides a solution to the inevitable ‘curse of the forgotten password’. But whilst the main benefit may appear to be the ease of use for the user, WeChat is actually one of the world’s most comprehensive and intelligent data-gathering tools. And yep, you’ve guessed it – this is a marketer’s dream.
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The possibilities for brand-to-consumer engagement on WeChat are almost unparalleled anywhere else in the world, and this is almost entirely due to the way the app manifests itself in as many aspects of daily life as possible. By knowing a person’s current location and when they usually have dinner, all in one app, fast-food brands can hyper-accurately target consumers when they’re most inclined to purchase. And by tapping into the app’s data on payments and money transfers, marketers can get a good idea of when, where, how and why users spend their money, before using this to hyper-accurately target their audience when they’re most likely to buy.
Whilst this would be an issue for many privacy-conscious consumers, another aspect of the app might provide more cause for concern. Whereas WhatsApp maintains a relatively strong stance on free speech (as long as you don’t mind its owners, Facebook, using your chat logs to target its advertising), WeChat, under the jurisdiction of the Chinese government, goes a step (or more aptly, a staircase) further. Censorship, topic restriction and reports of accounts being banned for talking about certain subject matter are rife, something that was recently brought to light by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. As well as claiming that the US-based ride-sharing app had had all of its accounts blocked on the Chinese app – which incidentally provides financial backing to one of Uber’s rivals, DiDi – Kalanick also alleged that positive news about Uber had been censored out of public view, while negative stories about the company were promoted. It came shortly after large-scale pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, during which WeChat users were seemingly unable to see photos of the protest posted by users with Hong Kong phone numbers.
Whilst unproven, both Kalanick’s claims and the furore surrounding the censorship of the demonstrations support the growing number of voices raised in protest at the attempts of Tencent and the Chinese government to seemingly control what people see.
Yet despite these concerns, what shouldn’t be overlooked is the technological power that has made a super-app such as WeChat possible. Imagine it in the hands of a western audience and the future looks very exciting indeed.
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