White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox Business on Sunday that “[TikTok] and WeChat are the biggest forms of censorship on the Chinese mainland, and so expect strong action on that.”
While WeChat powers a myriad of daily activities in China, from paying in a restaurant to booking a doctor’s appointment, the app’s function is mainly limited to messaging outside of China as foreign competitors fill its role in other areas.
WeChat is mainly used by Chinese diaspora and foreign businesses with a footprint or connection in China, while TikTok is primarily used by young local users across international markets.
It’s unclear how the U.S. restriction will play out, if it will at all, though some WeChat users are already speculating workarounds to stay in touch with their family and friends back home.In the case that the Tencent-owned messenger is removed by Apple App Store or Google Play.
If it were an IP address ban, they could potentially access the app through virtual private networks (VPNs), tools that are familiar to many in China to access online services blocked by Beijing’s Great Firewall.
American corporations are responding to the politicians’ call to boycott TikTok over security concerns. Wells Fargo told employees to remove TikTok from their phones. Amazon asked its staff to do the same but quickly backtracked from its demand.