Released by Chinese web giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat is the largest standalone messaging app in the world by monthly users, with more than 500 million people, primarily in China, using the app on a r

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Decoding the censorship apparatus used by WeChat
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Inkstone Explains unravels the ideas and context behind the headlines to help you understand news about China. Information is increasingly created, shared and consumed on a handful of social media platforms, a trend that has placed greater scrutiny on the owners and executives behind these tech behemoths, at least in the United States. As they have become more powerful globally, social media giants are trying to walk the tightrope by avoiding perceptions of censorship while corralling the spread of misinformation. In China, however, content censorship is part of the game and is widely accepted as a cost of doing business. WeChat, an app used ubiquitously throughou
China takes one more step toward digital national currency
People in China spent $1.3 million in over 62,000 transactions during a week-long trial of the country’s most extensive test of its sovereign digital currency. The currency, managed by the Chinese central bank, could potentially facilitate transactions and promote the international use of the Chinese yuan. It will also give officials more power to track the flow of money in the world’s second-largest economy. The southern tech hub of Shenzhen, where the test took place, said 47,573 people selected by lottery received a $30 cash gift, known as a red packet, in the digital currency. A total of 1.9 million residents applied to take part in the $1.49 million giveaway. People spent the money at 3
TikTok avoids US ban ... for now
A US judge on Sunday ordered the Trump administration to delay its ban of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok, temporarily suspending a restriction set to go into effect on Sunday night. On August 6, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to ban TikTok and WeChat, a Chinese-owned messaging app. The government said the companies pose a national security risk and could be required to turn over users’ personal data to Beijing.  The ruling comes within a week of a federal judge in California ruling on September 19 that the US government failed to provide enough evidence that WeChat posed enough of a security threat to justify a proposed ban. TikTok is a wildly popular s
China Trends: WeChat ban clouds iPhone use in China and closed mines continue to pollute
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. WeChat or iPhone?  After US President Donald Trump ordered fresh restrictions on the Chinese messaging super-app WeChat on Friday, many in China wondered whether it meant they would have to part ways with Apple. Trump used the power of executive orders to block all US transactions related to WeChat, beginning 45 days later. The order would bar Apple from listing WeChat in its App Store. With US-China relations in their worst state since the two countries restored diplomatic relations in the 70s, technology companies tha
Trump targets TikTok and WeChat in latest salvo against China
US President Donald Trump has ordered fresh restrictions on Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat as tech companies become a focal point of the increasingly bitter stand-off between Beijing and Washington. The Trump administration announced executive orders on Thursday evening banning “to the extent permitted under applicable law, any transaction” with TikTok owner ByteDance, or concerning WeChat via its parent company Tencent, taking effect in 45 days. The executive orders said that the spread of Chinese-owned mobile apps threatened “the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” and that data collection by WeChat and TikTok threatened to “allow the Chinese Communis
China Trends: WeChat blocks Indian users and a student quits a top college to change major
Every Tuesday and Thursday, China Trends takes the pulse of the Chinese social media to keep you in the loop of what the world’s biggest internet population is talking about. WeChat complies to India’s ban WeChat, China’s messaging super-app owned by Tencent, officially restricted users in India from using the app on Saturday, as a result of India’s ban on WeChat and 58 other Chinese apps in June.  The Indian government banned 59 Chinese apps in late June, including TikTok, WeChat and Baidu maps, saying they threatened India’s “sovereignty and integrity” two weeks after a fatal clash between Chinese and Indian troops at a Himalayan border.  The news prompted concerns on Chinese social media
Canada court punishes a WeChat user for spreading false information
A court ruling in Canada could put a stop on the freewheeling political posts in the country on WeChat, a WhatsApp-like super app popular among Chinese communities.  A Toronto construction worker, Wu Jian, was sued for defamation and ordered by the court to pay more than $38,000 after he posted a series of comments directed at a local community leader, Simon Zhong Xinsheng, in a WeChat political discussion group.  Justice Penny J. Jones of the Ontario Court of Justice said Wu’s comments on Zhong were malicious falsehoods. “The evidence before the court is that none of the defamatory statements made about Mr Zhong in the WeChat posts are true,” Jones wrote in her judgment.  WeChat has been a
‘China’s Facebook’ launches its Hail Mary comeback attempt
Zeng Mou, who lives in Guangxi, in the southwest of China, first got his Renren account in 2006.  The Chinese social networking site was part of daily life for the college student, who would regularly post photos and engage with his friends on the platform. Fourteen years down the road, the now 33-year-old civil servant still logs on daily “just out of habit,” but there is hardly anyone to engage with. “Nobody uses it,” he said of the once-popular platform that was known as “China’s Facebook.” Old-timers like Zeng, who have been hoping for the revival of the platform, have some reason to cheer now.  Renren launched its first social networking mobile app last Monday in a bid to attract new
How the smartphone completely transformed China in a decade
When finance industry employee Ringo Li relocated back to Beijing from Tokyo in 2010, he brought along his first smartphone – an iPhone 3G. Although one of the most advanced handsets available at the time, it was mainly used for text messages and phone calls, and occasional internet-surfing where Wi-fi was available. Life was mostly offline back then. Li would go to restaurants to order food, pay bills with cash and hail a taxi with an outstretched arm standing on the roadside. Fast forward 10 years and Li’s life has completely changed. No longer in finance, he communicates via WeChat and uses apps on his iPhone XS to order food, hail taxis, pay bills and shop. Most of the apps that permeate
I just moved to Beijing. This is my experience with mobile payments
“You might not have to make that trip to the bank after all,” Rob, a friend, messaged me over WeChat the other day. He attached a press release saying Alipay had launched an international version of its mobile payments platform for visitors to China. Named “Tour Pass,” the app can be used for up to 90 days and could prove handy for me, as I had moved from Hong Kong to Beijing for three months just over a month ago. The last time I lived in Beijing, five years ago while studying at Peking University, cash was still currency, shared bikes did not exist and people did not have their morning Starbucks delivered via an app. Since then China has transformed into an almost cashless society at an ex