Personal contact could be next casualty in U.S.-China tech feud

8/13/2020 4:45:00 PM

What is the fate of U.S.-China communication? Now that the White House has issued an ambiguous future ban on “transactions” involving WeChat, what’s next? China watchers are divided on its significance.

on TikTok.) It’s certain that WeChat censors content, yet the EOs themselves are an exercise in caveats and creative conjugation. WeChat “may also be used for disinformation campaigns,” while TikTok “threatens to allow” Chinese Communist Party access, “potentially allow[s]” tracking of federal employees, and “may also be used” for disinformation.

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AdvertisementAs U.S. and Chinese authorities trade accusations of “meddling” and “malign influence,” from WeChat’s friend circles to Hong Kong’s streets, there’s a danger that productive, garden variety “influence” gets prohibited too. The U.S. Peace Corps, for example, is explicit about instilling “a better understanding of Americans” in host countries; now it’s defunct in China after an

abrupt and messy exitearlier this year. As a U.S. government employee, your host was carefully monitored by a Chinese government nervous about his potentially polluting effect on young minds. In 2001, it all seemed laughably insecure, not befitting a great power in the 21st century. Here’s some smoking-gun evidence of that particular influence operation:

David WertimeTHE CHINA WATCHERSWhat is the fate of U.S.-China communication?Now that the White House has issued an ambiguous future ban on “transactions” involving WeChat, what’s next? China watchers are divided on its significance.Taisu Zhang, professor of law at Yale Law School, is skeptical a ban will work. “I think the only case in which WeChat really becomes unusable in the U.S. is if the Trump administration forces mobile phone platforms like Apple’s to remove WeChat from their app stores anywhere in the world. This would, however, effectively destroy Apple’s China market, so I seriously doubt this administration (or any other) has the guts to do that. Much more likely, WeChat will become unavailable on American App stores, but remain available elsewhere, which means American users can just change the nominal location of their Apple ID.”

Maria Repnikova, professor of global communication at Georgia State University: “I think this ban will significantly complicate communication. The network aspect, the culture of WeChat groups and the convenience of voice notes and the WeChat pay function combined in a single app is hard to replace. From my experience, WeChat has also replaced the email function for many people, whereby you can send an attachment through the app. People will adjust, of course, but I imagine communication will get slowed down in the short-term and the ban will yield lots of frustration among the Chinese diaspora community in the United States.”

Julia Voo, research director, Belfer Center China Cyber Policy Initiative at Harvard: "A read of the EO suggests that 'transaction' could be broadly interpreted. But any interpretation needs only to capture the app gatekeepers — Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play — to effectively institute a ban. If you compel Apple and Google to ban the apps from their stores, then the app becomes essentially unusable. It's interesting to note that the U.S. government is able to institute bans without having to build their version of China's Great Firewall.”

Translating China“When will there be an Asian President?” Read more: POLITICO »

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Mainland China reports 25 new coronavirus cases on August 11China reported 25 new coronavirus cases in the mainland on Aug. 11, compared with 44 cases a day earlier, the health authority said on Wednesday. When it was in 1000’s in China, they reported in 10’s; then when it went to millions, they reported in thousands so how come they are now reporting even the lowly 25’s🤷 What is the point to report this? There are so many things to write in the world, why the hack it is worth to write 25 new corona cases in China but not how they delivered this deadly disease to the entire world and killed tens of thousands?