- Separation of WeChat and Weixin
- China’s mRNA vaccines still a long way off
- Musk’s satellites cause a stir
- Landsbergis: ‘Principles do not come free’
- Beijing props up financial markets
- Less pressure for students
- Olympics ticker
- Felix Lee: Chinese New Year and the money cycle between adults
To use WeChat or not to use it? Foreigners are asking themselves this question once again. Because in recent months, WeChat has been asking users with foreign phone numbers to either submit a Chinese number or switch directly to Weixin, the Chinese version of the app. Frank Sieren investigated why Tencent, the company behind WeChat and Weixin, is taking this complicated step and maintains two separate apps behind the scenes. With China’s new data protection law on the one side and requirements from foreign regulators on the other, Tencent is in a quandary and had to act.
Hope always dies last. This is apparently also the case with the Chinese-developed mRNA vaccine Arcov. At first, the mRNA vaccine raised hopes that it could cause Beijing to soon reopen the borders. But this hope was replaced by mere expectation management. Our Beijing team noted that, for quite some time, state media declared that there is no foreseeable end to zero-covid, even if a new vaccine could provide better protection for its people.
Did you also hand out red envelopes for Chinese New Year, or may even receive some yourself? It’s already tricky enough not to commit a faux pas when deciding on how much money to put into the envelope. Too much could embarrass the recipient, but too little doesn’t look good for the gift-giver’s generosity. But that’s not the only catch. Felix Lee describes what other mistakes could be made. After I was done reading his column, I felt much better about the fact that I only put a blue (euro) bill instead of a red one in the red envelope for my relatives’ children this year.
Have a pleasant day!
Weixin and WeChat: making two out of one
Over the past few months, more and more foreign users of the Chinese universal app WeChat have been asked to change their phone number or switch their account to the Chinese counterpart called Weixin 微信. This confused many customers, who previously considered Weixin and WeChat to be the same platform. Until now, they considered both to be merely two different language versions of the same app, provided for internationality reasons. But in fact, the parent company Tencent has almost silently split its service into two different apps.
WeChat now runs as an international version on data centers outside China, while Weixin is handled as the local Chinese version on servers within the People’s Republic. Only users with a Chinese phone number will still be able to use Weixin, the local Chinese version. Both apps have 1.2 billion monthly global active users combined, most of whom are located in China.
WeChat operator Tencent has not yet issued an official statement. However, it is likely that the Shenzhen-based company is bowing to China’s new data protection law. It regulates and monitors the transfer of personal user information between Chinese and foreign servers more closely than ever. The Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL), which came into force in November 2021 (China.Table reported), is one of the strictest in the world when it comes to data traffic and the storage of personal information.