Chinese citizens could soon abandon their iPhones for good if Washington bans popular messaging app WeChat, Beijing has warned, pointing to survey data showing most consumers are ready to ditch Apple.
“If WeChat is banned, then there will be no reason why Chinese shall keep iPhone and Apple products,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijan tweeted on Thursday, sharing a video from his most recent press conference, where he accused the US administration of “piracy” over a ban on the chat app ordered earlier this month.
Zhao said he was aware of a survey, conducted by Chinese social media platform Weibo, which showed that about 95 percent of respondents would ditch their iPhone if WeChat ends up on a US blacklist. WeChat has more than 1.2 billion active users, most of them located in China.
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that would block all US transactions involving WeChat starting next month. The ban could potentially require Apple and other US firms to remove the messaging app from their app stores.
During the press briefing, Zhao denounced Washington’s attempts to shut out non-US companies under the guise of “national security,” arguing that the WeChat ban was an ideologically-driven form of “economic bullying.”
The feud over WeChat comes amid growing political and economic tensions between Washington and Beijing. The Trump administration has taken aim at dozens of Chinese firms, most notably Huawei, accusing the companies of collaborating with the Chinese government.