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“It’s the only method I can communicate with my family”: WeChat shouldn’t be banned from U.S.

Imagine living thousands of miles from home and not being able to message your family, hear their voices or see their faces, even through a screen.

Imagine needing a certain form of communication to follow your dreams, but then that platform is potentially being stripped away.

This is the reality of the possible ban of WeChat in the United States — a move that should not be made. 

According to Bloomberg News, WeChat, owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, is the top communication app in mainland China and used by Chinese users globally. This includes many in the Miami community.

President Trump suspects WeChat, TikTok and other Chinese apps are used for information warfare against the United States. Information warfare is the gathering, providing and denying of information to benefit one party while harming the other — in this situation, China against the U.S.

“There are a number of … administration officials who are looking at the national security risks as it relates to TikTok, WeChat and other apps that have the potential for national security exposure, specifically as it relates to the gathering of information on American citizens by a foreign adversary,” White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said.

President Trump himself hasn’t listed many specific reasons why WeChat is such a danger to our national security. For many people, I’ve seen it do nothing but good.

Nick Vennefron, a local music producer from Oxford, and half of the group StarOcean Music, is feeling the effects of the possible ban of WeChat.

“WeChat is how I communicate with my business partner, who is the other half of our music duo from China. It’s how I send him messages, files, voice messages and video clips,” Vennefron said. “Sending him emails would be impossible, because most of the files we send back and forth are too large to be sent through email. If I lose communication with Ben (his partner), I won’t be able to continue on with my music journey.”

Vennefron has been working at his music career for almost 10 years and is my boyfriend of eight years, so this possible ban hits home for me.

After speaking with a couple of international students who are currently attending Miami, my heart has grown even heavier with the possibility of outlawing WeChat.

Haoduan Jiang, a senior at Miami majoring in computer science, said the app is convenient for three reasons.

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“First of all, there is no region restriction of using it, so no matter where I am in the world, I am able to use it to chat with my friend on WeChat,” Jiang said. “The other option is to actually call their Chinese number, which would be [very] expensive. Google is banned in China, so there aren’t many apps they can use to communicate with me.”

Xiu Gao, a graduate student, is another WeChat user.

“It’s the only method I can keep in touch with my parents and elder sister,” Gao said. “My mother can hear and see me through WeChat when she misses me. It is ridiculous to ban WeChat because it’s only a simple communication software that can bring us with our family and friends together. It’s the only method my parents can reach me when they miss me. Since they’re nearly 60 years old, it’s difficult to learn another social media like Facebook or Skype. I really don’t want WeChat to be banned.” 

How exactly does this help anything? What does banning a social media app solve, especially if there’s no concrete evidence of information warfare?

It could pose a threat to significantly drop the rates of international studentswho come into the U.S., which would hurt universities like Miami already decreasing in those demographics.

When you come here, it’s supposed to be about achieving your goals and dreams. How is someone supposed to come to America and not be able to communicate with their family about those dreams? 

Sure, a few alternatives exist, but none offer the features and accessibility of WeChat when working around the censorship of the Chinese government.

President Trump is not thinking about anyone else but himself in this situation. He isn’t thinking of the international students who come thousands of miles away to build a new life for themselves. He isn’t thinking about music producers and WeChat being their only way to communicate with their partners. 

America is the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, but right now, it doesn’t feel too damn free.

Imagine moving to a new country and feeling very alone, and not even being able to tell your family you made it. 

Imagine not being able to tell them your classes are going well, or that you made new friends and were adapting.

How exactly, President Trump, is this information warfare? And if it is, what reasons do you have that could be good enough to almost entirely stop communication between loved ones?

We’re waiting. 

kypursifull8

pursifkn@miamioh.edu

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