WeChat users in the US say the app is censoring their messages about Hong Kong
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- Chinese-Americans using the Chinese app WeChat say they are being censored for writing messages in support of Hong Kong.
- WeChat is ubiquitous in China, so for Chinese Americans with family there it is a major blow to be kicked off the app.
- This is the latest in a pattern of Chinese censorship extending into the US.
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Xie then joined a WhatsApp group full of Chinese-Americans who had similarly been kicked off WeChat for expressing political views.For Chinese Americans with family in China, being kicked off WeChat is a major problem. The WeChat app is more or less ubiquitous in China, where it covers an extremely broad range of uses. It acts as a messaging app, a dominant payment platform, a social network, and a platform for accomplishing everyday tasks like paying utility bills and booking doctor's appointments. WeChat and rival Alipay's payment systems have become so everyday that even street vendors and buskers use QR codes rather than accept cash.
Losing access to the app is a major hindrance to anyone wishing to contact Chinese relatives - as popular Western messaging apps like Facebook and WhatsApp are blocked in China - and for anyone who wants to visit the country.The Verge notes that while generally WeChat applies different censorship rules to Chinese nationals and foreigners, Chinese Americans may fall through the net if they have once possessed a Chinese phone number.WeChat's parent company Tencent was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.
The extension of Chinese censorship laws beyond its borders has become more pertinent to American citizens in recent months through three high-profile news stories.
- The NBA ended up in a feud with China when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protests, prompting intense backlash in China, with various sponsors severing ties with the Rockets. Morey deleted the tweet and the NBA called it "regrettable," which sparked fury from US lawmakers.
- Apple banned an app which allowed people in Hong Kong to track police activity from its App Store. Although Apple claimed the decision was not influenced by China and was instead made because the app was being used to "target and ambush police," US lawmakers piled into the tech giant for siding with Beijing.
- Video game publisher Blizzard came under fire for punishing a professional "Hearthstone" player after he voiced support for the Hong Kong protests during a livestream.
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