WeChat or iPhone? It might become an either-or choice for consumers. On August 6, U.S. President Donald Trump issued executive orders that would ban TikTok and WeChat from operating in the U.S. in 45 days if they are not sold by their Chinese parent companies.
A likely scenario is that WeChat and TikTok will be removed from Apple’s App Store, which will directly impact Apple’s Chinese market as WeChat is the most prevalent messaging and mobile payment app in China.
WeChat, a popular social media platform, has 1.2 billion monthly active users worldwide, according to its parent company Tencent. TikTok, the globally popular short video platform, is owned by Internet technology firm ByteDance. Trump issued another executive order on August 14 directing ByteDance to divest interest in TikTok’s U.S. operations within the next 90 days.
The TikTok and WeChat ban will affect many Americans adversely, including their freedom of choice, observers said. They also think that all such moves, including the relentless crackdown on Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei, could fuel U.S. decoupling from China, which will be a mutually harmful unstrategic choice.
The reaction of the U.S. commercial community to this ban is very clear and consistent. Besides Apple, more than a dozen companies, including Ford, Walmart, Goldman Sachs, Intel, Morgan Stanley, Procter & Gamble and United Parcel Service, are all said to have taken part in a call with White House officials, detailing the adverse impacts that a ban on WeChat could have on their businesses, according to a Wall Street Journal report on August 12.
What WeChat is to the Chinese can be viewed as what a combination of Facebook, WhatsApp and Apple Pay is to the West. People use WeChat to make payments, send messages, videochat, read news and do more.
Without WeChat, the iPhone would seem useless to many Chinese users. In a recent poll on Chinese social media Weibo, 94 percent of the participants said they would switch to another brand if WeChat cannot be used on iPhone.