The WeChat ban puts many American users in anxiety
Nicholaus Hamilton

Editor's note: This is a letter from Nicholaus Hamilton, an EFL teacher for Chinese Students, currently living in the state of Michigan in the U.S, sharing his personal experience with WeChat and how the WeChat ban is going to affect him personally.

On August 6, the U.S. government under the Trump administration announced bans on the Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat that are due to take effect on the 20th of September. As a daily user of WeChat in the United States, I feel a great amount of anxiety, and stress over the looming ban. This is because WeChat has been essential to my daily life since 2017, and now the Trump administration is threatening to cut off this vital part of my life.

Losing access to WeChat would be personally devastating to me. I am an American, and I am living in Michigan now, but I have been to China twice in the past few years, and I am planning to move to China to continue my English teaching career as soon as I am able to do so. Also, almost all of my personal and professional contacts, and hundreds of pictures and memories I have of my trips to China are all only accessible using WeChat. So, during the time of a worldwide pandemic and much uncertainty, the Trump administration threats to ban WeChat has added even more uncertainty and stress to my daily life.

The stress and uncertainty that I feel over the possibility of losing access to WeChat is more than just anger of losing access to one app. It is everything else I will lose. As I mentioned above, I use WeChat for almost all of my personal and professional connections, and a ban could make it very hard for me to stay in contact with those I am closest with.

Although I can't speak for others, I can see that I am not the only one who is feeling this uncertainty and anxiety over the potential banning of WeChat. There are millions of people in the U.S. in this similar predicament. Americans who have close personal and business relations with China are also in this situation. And so are the Chinese diaspora in the U.S. for whom WeChat is a vital tool to communicate with their friends and family in China.

During the mist of this uncertainty, I find myself asking the question: "Does the U.S. government care that their potential ban of WeChat could make it more difficult, or even cut off vital communication between friends and families for millions of people, not just the Chinese diaspora, but also many Americans like myself?" After doing some research and pondering this question, I have come to the conclusion that, this is a calculated move by the Trump administration not only to continue their economic piracy and bullying tactics on Chinese technology companies, but also, with quiet support from the Democrats, could be sending a subliminal message to those of us who are affected by this ban. And the message I am receiving is that Chinese people and even Americans who love China are not welcome in the U.S. anymore.

There has been a constant stream of anti-Chinese acts and rhetoric from the U.S. government, such as blaming the pandemic and the abysmal economic situation on China; the violations of international law by trespassing into China's territorial waters in the South China Sea; interfering in China's internal affairs in regard to Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; using Canada as an accomplice to kidnap and hold Meng Wanzhou for ransom; accusing innocent students of being spies; calling COVID-19 the "Chinese virus;" closing the consulate in Houston; suppressing Chinese companies. The list goes on.

The environment in the U.S., especially during this politically charged election season, has become incredibly hostile to China, Chinese people, and even their own citizens who have a love for China. The threat to ban access to such a vital tool as WeChat is a subliminal message from the Trump administration to people in the U.S. that we are not allowed to have an easy way to talk with our families, friends, and professional contacts in China anymore, and for me personally, I feel as if I am being told that I am not allowed to love China.

In the mist of the stress, anxiety and negativity, I am reminded of a saying I heard before that was used by American nationalists to gaslight people who were harmed or who just disagreed with certain U.S. government policies. "This is America, if you don't like it, then you can get out!" This is what the Trump administration, and the bipartisan consensus in Washington is subliminally saying to those of us affected by the WeChat ban and to the Chinese diaspora negatively affected by the rampant anti-Chinese rhetoric and racism: "This is America, if you don't like it, then you can get out!"

Nicholaus Hamilton

EFL teacher in Michigan

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