Amid intense scrutiny over TikTok as a potential national security risk in the U.S., WeChat, the essential tool for Chinese people’s day-to-day life, is also taking heat from Washington. TechCrunch reports: White House trade advisor Peter Navarro told Fox Business on Sunday that “[TikTok] and WeChat are the biggest forms of censorship on the Chinese mainland, and so expect strong action on that.” Navarro alleged that “all of the data that goes into those mobile apps that kids have so much fun with and seem so convenient, it goes right to servers in China, right to the Chinese military, the Chinese communist party, and the agencies which want to steal our intellectual property.”
It’s unclear how the U.S. restriction will play out, if it will at all, though some WeChat users are already speculating workarounds to stay in touch with their family and friends back home. In the case that the Tencent-owned messenger is removed by Apple App Store or Google Play, U.S.-based users could switch to another regional store to download the app. If it were an IP address ban, they could potentially access the app through virtual private networks (VPNs), tools that are familiar to many in China to access online services blocked by Beijing’s Great Firewall.