Indigenous Communities, Online Diaspora and Social Media

The Importance of WeChat in the Chinese migrant community in Australia


Diasporic communities are those that are lived in by migrants who are separated from their homelands and each other. These migrants are joined together by a shared sense of identity, belonging and remembrance of, and to, their homeland. The topic of this paper discusses the importance of the mobile application WeChat to Chinese migrants living in these communities in Australia. Firstly, this paper explores how WeChat is used by the Chinese migrant community to maintain a sense of their national identity by providing a familiar cultural sphere for them to participate in. Secondly, it discusses how WeChat influences the construction of new, hybrid identities by exposing migrants to outside cultural influences. Thirdly, it observes the importance of the maintenance and construction of new connections and how WeChat enables these. Finally, it examines the significance of new and existing networks on WeChat and how these influence the migrant experience in diasporic communities. This paper argues that as a result of the ubiquity of WeChat and its importance in the Chinese culture, it is evident that this mobile application plays a central and essential role in the Chinese migrant experience in Australia. 


WeChat, Chinese migrants, Australia, social media

Diasporic communities are made up of geographically separated migrants who are connected to each other through a shared sense of identity, belonging and remembrance of, and to, their homeland (Brinkerhoff, 2012). These groups simultaneously create communities within their new countries but also experience “a feeling and sense of in-betweenness or hybridity” between their homelands and their new life (Yu & Sun, 2019). In 2019, it was estimated that there were 670,000 Chinese-born migrants living in Australia, making up 2.7% of the total Australian population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2020). In addition, over 1.2 million Australians have Chinese ancestry (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2018). Australia is the second-largest community of Chinese-born people in the world after the United Kingdom (Department of Home Affairs, 2020). WeChat (known as Weixin in Chinese) is a popular multi-purpose Chinese mobile application that has over 1 billion active monthly users worldwide (Tencent, n.d.). It is used for a wide range of online activities including social media, gaming, online chat and e-commerce (Yu & Sun, 2019). Despite Chinese migrants in Australia having access to applications and platforms that are banned within China, for example, Twitter and Facebook, the popularity of Chinese “mega-platforms” (Chen et al., 2018, p.1) and applications such as WeChat has remained extremely important to the Chinese people and is considered central to the community and daily life (Yu & Sun, 2019). This highlights the importance of WeChat in supporting the maintenance and construction of identities, connections and networks in diasporic Chinese communities that live in Australia. 

The popularity and ubiquity of WeChat has allowed Chinese migrants living in diasporic communities to maintain a sense of their national identities after moving to Australia. WeChat provides a familiar online space that is considered culturally Chinese due to the application predominantly being presented in Chinese and used primarily by Chinese people (Sandel et al., 2018). Yang (2003) notes that online spaces, such as WeChat, allow Chinese migrants to continue being part of the “online Chinese cultural sphere” (p.470) after migrating and this results in the ability to maintain a sense of their Chinese identity. This is achieved through the maintenance of relationships via WeChat’s chat or video call functions, accessing or posting photographs to their “Moments” feed and being involved in general Chinese discourse and culture which may be absent from their immediate community in Australia. This is important as well as beneficial to the well-being of Chinese migrants. The ability to maintain a sense of a migrant’s Chinese identity while living in diasporic communities can work to decrease feelings of stress and marginalisation (Brinkerhoff, 2019). While WeChat allows the continuance of Chinese cultural identity and a connection with their homelands, migrants do not exist in isolation from their new country and culture. This results in them being influenced by and negotiating with their new culture and the formation of a hybrid identity that is continually being reshaped and reproduced (Brinkerhoff, 2019).     

The use of WeChat provides a space for the construction and experimentation of hybrid identities for migrants living in diasporic communities. A migrant’s hybrid identity exists within two cultural spheres (Brinkerhoff, 2019). Firstly, some migrants do not fully integrate and adopt their new country’s customs and culture, which results in a permanent link back to China (Brinkerhoff, 2019). Secondly, people are not able to fully maintain an original and static Chinese cultural identity that is free from the impact of outside cultural influences (Brinkerhoff, 2019). For example, this can be seen in the use of WeChat to engage, educate and integrate Chinese migrants in issues such as Australian politics (Sun & Yu, 2020). In 2019, Bill Shorten was the first Labour leader to host live sessions with Mandarin speakers on WeChat (Sun & Yu, 2020). This allowed migrants to be exposed to and engage directly with the Australian political system (Sun & Yu, 2020). WeChat groups also provided a place for people to learn about the Australian voting system, educate themselves on political parties and join discourse surrounding elections (Sun & Yu, 2020). This exposure to a liberal and democratic society challenged the authoritarian culture experienced in China and allowed migrants to consider and adapt to a new set of values and mores (Sun & Yu, 2020). This supports Brinkerhoff (2019) argument that, “cultural beliefs and practices, the fodder for identity, are tools for adaptation”. Further, it illustrates how a hybrid identity interplays between the influences of a migrant’s homeland, adopted country and new social and cultural experiences (Brinkerhoff, 2019). WeChat is important in its ability to influence and construct a migrant’s hybrid identity and can also be used to maintain contact with friends and family.

The affordances of WeChat have enabled Chinese migrants in Australia to maintain connections and relationships which are unrestricted by time or distance. Despite the move away from their homelands, this does not result in the severance of personal relationships and ties (Dekker & Engbersen, 2014). While pre-digital era migrants relied on long-distance communication methods to stay in touch, such as sending letters or recorded cassette tapes, the affordances of the internet have now changed how this is practised (Dekker & Engbersen, 2014). WeChat provides a hub for people to have a central point of communication that has been adopted by many in the Chinese community and is easily accessible to most people. Dekker and Engbersen (2014) note that it also “creates a feeling of intimacy and proximity” (p. 407). Keles (2016) argues that communication technology such as social media has the ability to strengthen social connections both to the homeland and also within a migrant’s new home. Although there have been issues with countries such as India and Russia banning access to WeChat, its global accessibility and popularity amongst the Chinese community allows for the easy maintenance of relationships and connections. For example, WeChat’s “Moments” allow users to post regular updates that can be viewed by their followers or the use of WeChat groups which allows direct messaging between users (Zhao, 2019). WeChat also allows for these features to be accessed asynchronously so people can still feel connected without being limited by space and time (Yang, 2003). These WeChat features allow for connections to be easily continued and maintained for Chinese migrants living in diasporic communities and can also allow for the making of new connections.  

In addition to maintaining connections, WeChat assists in the making of new connections for Chinese migrants. For example, this is evident amongst young gay Chinese migrants in Australia who use social media such as WeChat for making new connections and expanding or exploring previously unknown social circles (Yu and Blain, 2019). Further, WeChat’s functionalities such as geolocation and tagging features have allowed the formation of new connections while users are mobile (Yu and Blain, 2019). This has allowed young gay Chinese migrants the freedom to move and explore outside their known and established communities. Although there is a sense of freedom experienced it must be noted that due to the co-presence of family connections on WeChat some young gay users have found that this context collapse has caused increased pressure for them to display heteronormative practices to appease traditional Chinese family obligations (Yu and Blain, 2019). In addition to the making of new social connections, new business connections can also be constructed. For example, the popularity of Chinese interest and participation in the Australian real estate market is a popular topic on WeChat (Zhang & Wang, 2019). Zhang and Wu (2019) note the importance of WeChat to Australian real estate agents in the advertising of properties and communicating with potential buyers. WeChat users are also utilising the application for the spreading of property-related information and news to other users (Zhang & Wang, 2019). This results in real estate agents potentially attracting new clients through word of mouth within the migrant community pre and post-arrival into Australia (Zhang & Wang, 2019). This provides real estate businesses with a growing network which they can maintain and utilise to further their business interests domestically and internationally. 

WeChat is significant in enabling Chinese migrants to construct and join networks to assist with issues before and after arriving in Australia. This may include assistance with concerns on how to find housing, employment and organising travel (Dekker & Engbersen, 2014). Although these networks may not be bound closely, they are important in assisting with the distribution and sourcing of information (Dekker & Engbersen, 2014). For example, these networks can help with establishing business opportunities, locating support, organising communities and promoting or seeking unity (Yu & Sun, 2019). Ros (2010) notes that the presence of migrant networks is not new and has always been part of the migrant experience, but it is evident that the adoption of online tools such as WeChat has benefited migrants with easier access to information and resources. As previously mentioned, this is evident in WeChat users constructing networks to discuss real estate opportunities (Zhang & Wang, 2019) and the education surrounding the Australian political system (Sun & Yu, 2020). Further, WeChat hosts public accounts that provide access to information about local and Chinese issues and news (Yu & Sun, 2019), which results in the construction of new networks for migrant users to join and interact with. These differ greatly from mainstream Australian sources which are less tailored to their needs. Once part of a WeChat network, the application is useful in allowing migrant users to continue to participate in and maintain their networks without restrictions of time and place.

The maintenance of WeChat networks is essential for Chinese migrants after they arrive in Australia. This network, even if not held together by strong ties, can be a source of ongoing support, assistance or information (Brinkerhoff, 2009). Brinkerhoff (2009) notes the importance of online networks in providing a sense of “community and solidarity” (p.11). Maintaining networks via WeChat can also be important in helping migrants adjust and integrate into their new home and culture (Seo et al., 2021). It can also assist in combatting feelings of marginalisation and provide a central place to receive guidance in a familiar and safe environment (Brinkerhoff, 2009). Further, the networks that are accessible on WeChat can provide a place to connect about the Chinese migrant shared experience and be a place to receive understanding and support (Brinkerhoff, 2009). This illustrates the powerful role of WeChat in maintaining networks and supporting Chinese migrants living in diasporic communities in Australia.

Due to the ubiquitous use of WeChat by Chinese people, it is evident that the importance of this application is central to the diasporic Chinese migrant community in Australia. WeChat provides an online space for the maintenance, and construction of identity by providing a familiar cultural sphere to use as a central hub. It allows for the production of a hybrid identity by exposing the migrants to issues such as Australian politics through a mode in which they are proficient in using. WeChat also provides a place to easily maintain and make new connections through its technological affordances such as newsfeeds and chat capabilities. In addition, it allows the construction and maintenance of networks by providing important information and support to Chinese migrants before and after arriving in Australia. This article has demonstrated the importance of WeChat to Chinese migrant communities in Australia. However the research on the social networking practices of these diasporic communities is still limited and more research needs to be conducted to fully understand the importance of these applications to international migration.

Future research could incorporate how Chinese migrants in Australia address the existence of disparities experienced when users are unable to access WeChat via reliable internet, especially in rural and remote areas of Australia. Further, additional research could also incorporate how the presence of the Chinese government in monitoring and censorship of WeChat content affects and influences how migrant users in Australia utilise the application.


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36 thoughts on “The Importance of WeChat in the Chinese migrant community in Australia

  1. Hi Katherine,
    This is Wen. Thanks for writing this fabulous paper for this conference! I find this paper relatable to myself as I’m a WeChat user as well. Being an international student, studying in a country that is with totally different culture background, it took me some time to get used to the lifestyles, languages, and the culture. As Australia has become more multi-cultural-welcome, people who are with Chinese background are getting more and more. Businesses in australia, businesses with Chinese background to be exact, see WeChat Pay as one of the essential alternatives of paying method (Lu, 2020), especially people who are from China would find WeChat Pay as a benefit.

    Lu, L. (2020, September 22). The International Students’ WeChat Dilemma. Asia Dispatchers.

  2. Hi Katherine
    I know it is very late to join the discussion. But I need to say that your paper is wonderful, well-researched and insightful. Yes WeChat is a mega apps and plays an important role in the Chinese migrant community in Australia. I definitely relate myself as hybrid identity . Fortunately I have the luxury of using various apps including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest as well as WeChat. Wechat is not the only central node for my life but the affordances of Wechat are enormous.
    I want to raise one super popular feature, namely WeChat marketing. It is the art of gaining followers to your account, getting them actively engaged with you through live streaming products promotion show, eventually converting followers to customers through the bottom menu that they can use to purchase items or reach out to you. Commodities such as Chinese New Year costume can be purchased through WeChat marketing.
    Congratulations to your great paper!

  3. Hi Katherine!

    I loved your conference paper! I never knew WeChat was used so extensively in Australia and that it contributed to the connections of the Chinese diaspora in Australia. You’re points touching on the importance of we chat in forming identities and enabling the construction of networks is powerful and important. There seems to be a fear lately of Chinese technology and applications, I hope this sort of research alleviates that fear and reinforces the need for apps such as these in contributing the health of these communities.

    Thanks, Coen

  4. Hi Katherine 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading your paper and enjoyed learning more about WeChat!

    I did an assignment on WeChat not so long ago for my PR assignment and it really took me by surprise just how much WeChat can do within the app fr users.

    I personally really thought some of the settings WeChat offer would come in handy while others in class questioned a lot to do with the privacy concerns they had about the social application.

    I am curious to know if you would like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter etc to become more like WeChat or do you like the platforms separate how they are at the moment?

    Thanks for the awesome paper I really enjoyed it.

    Warmest Regards,

    Georgia Wiley 🙂

  5. Hi Katherine
    What a great paper! I enjoyed reading it very much and now know about WeChat.
    Previously I had just thought it was the Chinese version of Facebook but realise now it is so much more.
    I was pleased to read how it can provide information to Chinese migrants about Australia and the example you used regarding politics and elections/voting. This is obviously very powerful in creating the hybrid identity of the migrant Chinese community.

    I read the following article (Wang et al, 2018) that may be of interest as it discusses Chinese settlement in a geographical sense in Australia and my thoughts went to you paper and how you described how WeChat is used by Real Estate agents. The article discusses “segmented assimilation that was initially proposed by Zhou and Portes (2012) to explain how ethnic groups form a mosaic of clusters outside the inner‐city enclaves that are variegated” and I though of how the online community of WeChat would contribute to the formation of these geographic clusters (or communities).

    Article: Shifting dynamics of Chinese settlement in Australia: an urban geographic perspective, Wang, Siqin ; Sigler, Thomas ; Liu, Yan ; Corcoran, Jonathan, Geographical research, 2018-11, Vol.56 (4), p.447-464

    Best regards…Louise

  6. Hey,

    This was such an interesting read, and very informative for people like me who don’t know too much about Chinese culture and lifestyles. It definitely opened my eyes and helped me understand how they go about trying to fit into Australian communities whilst maintaining the ones they have from home. It was definitely quite a shock to see that conversations on the app aren’t private, and I can imagine the invasion of privacy people have felt just trying to find a community to belong to. Great Essay

  7. Hi Katherine,

    This paper was so interesting to read! It reminded me of when I visited China when I was younger and had a really hard time connecting to any form of social media which made me feel quite distanced from the news of the world which was quite different. I also got to visit a school in Beijing where I talked to many students about social media in China and a lot of the students found ways around Facebook, I think maybe with VPNs? It was really interesting to see the way that online identity is such a sought-after thing. This brings me to what you stated here “This highlights the importance of WeChat in supporting the maintenance and construction of identities, connections and networks in diasporic Chinese communities that live in Australia”.
    I had never really heard of WeChat before reading your paper and I had never considered how it would really be used as an almost support system for Chinese communities in other countries.
    According to Séverine Arsène “Social media then becomes a kind of escape mechanism, allowing indirect access to goods and services making up the idealised modernity through the exchange of content and the purchase of virtual privileges” (2017. p. 76).

    I think the topic of censorship is really interesting in the way that we as humans really often try to subvert the values we are taught. Censorship can therefore we linked to the need of Chinses communities wanting to explore further development of their online identities.

    So many great points in this paper Katherine, I would love to hear what you think about censorship further. and what it means in the way we are able to build our online identities.

    Have a great day!



    Arsène, S. (2017). Social media in rural China/Social media in industrial china. China Perspectives, (2), 75-76. Retrieved from

  8. Hi Kate,

    Thanks for sharing your very informative paper – I found it really engaging and enjoyed learning about WeChat.

    While reading your paper, I connected to your exploration about the characteristics and motivates of this community. My partner and I follow the hashtag #irishinsydney on both Instagram and Facebook. As you point out, the digital affordance of a hashtag creates a connection point for the communication of this community. My favourite experience in this realm is one morning, we notice that a user had uploaded a photo of a range of confectionary to an Instagram story tagged #irishinsydney. This post also had a location tag, pointing to a new business, an Irish Convenience Store that has just opened. A few hours later, we were at the same store purchasing our own range of childhood sweets and snacks. Your article gave a tremendous academic explanation, having lived an authentic experience like this.

    Another part of your paper I found fascinating was your assessment of how communication technology is being used to inform and engage within the political system, in this case, with the Chinese community through WeChat. More broadly, I think this is a positive step forward for political discourse that digital connection points are seemingly making accessible more easily between lawmakers and vice versa. Late last year, American congresswomen Alexandria Oscaio-Cortez join the video streaming platform, Twitch. She created a channel that led to almost half a million people joining and communicating in real-time with her and creating an open-source dialogue.

    Congratulations on your paper, It was a great addition to the conference.

  9. Thank you for writing this excellent paper Katherine. The information you provided has been an excellent starting point for me to research more about WeChat and particularly its function for Chinese communties living abroad.

    I definitely relate with the hybrid identity that you described and agree with you that social media apps etc have been excellent tools in educating oneself about different cultural practices while at the same time being able to connect with one´s original culture.

    I know that you intentionally avoided writing a paragraph about the censorship/ surveillance issue because an an entire essay could not adequately cover all the details and implications.

    I personally would be very hesistant to concentrate too much of my daily necessities and activities dependant on one app and/or device. WeChat, I suppose, is the testing ground for the imminent rollout of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) across the globe- a system which I believe almost guarantees mass censorship/surveillence with majorly negative consequences for a free and open society.

    From my understanding, when using WeChat in Australia, you are interacting with the Chinese Blockchain Service Network (BSN) because both domestic and international neworks are connected. Not only is your device´s memory exposed, but also private key information is accessible and could be theoretically intercepted and modified to implement a hypothetical, but potentially new system of societal control, probably based on social credit.

    Hopefully, social media can be used to educate people about the importance of decentralised finance and messaging apps. Would love to hear your opinion, if you have time, check out my paper –

  10. Hi Kate,

    I found your paper very informative. All I knew of WeChats features was that it couold be compared to Whatsapp. I learnt a lot from your paper and this prompted me to seek out the differences between the app I use (Whatsapp). I discovered more of the feature differences, through Stephens (2020) comparative analysis and insights of WeChat vs Whatsapp, (I’ll link it below if you are interested). The major difference that stood out to me as problematic is the privacy (as you have already suggested this needs to be further researched), the article states “China is strict with their monitoring and your chat is not private – no matter what language you’re using.”

    I found your research, on how the affordances of the app has become problematic for gay Chinese migrants (and I assume others part of LGBTQ+ community) in expressing this part of their identity, a sad reality, as I did not know about the pressures to display more heteronormative practices. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community I found this consequence/development extremely unfortunate, I will definitely be reading the article you referenced.


    Stephans, Z. (2019). WhatsApp vs WeChat the ultimate debate, who wins the battle?. LTL Mandarin School.

  11. Hi Katherine,
    Your paper provided some insightful information about the the importance of WeChat in the Chinese migrant community which I was not even aware of. I would never know that WeChat was such an integral in the Chinese community in terms of sharing culture and knowledge. WeChat used to engage, educate and integrate Chinese migrants in issues such as Australian politics but what do you think would happen if WeChat was someday shutdown by hackers?

    1. Hi Ignesh – You make a really good point. When people are using one mega app as a central node for their life and it gets shut down I can imagine it would be a huge disruption. Just think about when apps like Twitter or Instagram go down for a few hours—the world seems to go into disarray! Imagine a similar situation but you can no longer pay for things/access important data/use messaging functionalities. I’m not sure there is a good answer for that situation as the adage of “not putting all your eggs in one basket” really doesn’t apply here if you want to function within the Chinese community!

  12. Hi Katherine

    An interesting read on Diasporic communities and about WeChat and its contribution in the construction of hybrid communities. It is interesting how WeChat keeps the Chinese migrant community connected with their culture. The Chinese community have always strived to stay connected to their roots and culture with WeChat strengthening such relationships. It is a close-knit community where they can safely communicate with their community for advice and for sharing their experiences, all in their comfort zone without being judged of who they are, where they come from, what language they speak.

    Do you think this kind of social media communication that restricts Chinese to their community keeps them away from mingling, getting exposed to other cultures and be tolerant of other cultures? Would love to hear your thoughts.

    The following are some discussion on the influence of WeChat Australia that interested me.
    ‘Uncharted territory: WeChat’s new role in Australian public life raises difficult questions’ ( discusses how WeChat blocks and censors content in Australia, monitoring, controlling and censoring content that is sensitive to China.
    ‘Australians Use of WeChat’ ( is an interesting read about how politicians in Australia have started to open accounts on WeChat to attract Chinese voters that form a large part of the migrant population in Australia. However, it has been argued that such associations of politicians and media can bring new challenges as WeChat was not designed to work in democracy and that democracy cannot work with WeChat (Walsh & Xiao, 2019).

    What do you think about the impact of WeChat in general on Australian communities and its impact on Australian politics?

    Thanks for the discussion.

    China Matters. (2021). Australians Use of WeChat. Retrieved from

    Walsh, M., Xiao, B. (2019). Uncharted territory: WeChat’s new role in Australian public life raises difficult questions. Retrieved from

  13. Hi Katherine,

    I thought this was a really great paper! I’ve worked in finance before, so I’ve only ever considered WeChat through the lens of how we could leverage WeChat and WeChat pay for our Chinese customers. To see it reframed as a hub for community was really valuable.

    I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on something you touched on in the paper. You mentioned Bill Shorten participating in a Q&A on WeChat. Do you think there’s risk for those manoeuvres to be read as performative, or intrusive? I can see how Australian government representatives coming into a space more or less designated for the Chinese community to pass on their message may be intrusive, but conversely I can see how spreading the message to the places where the community gathers can be useful in disseminating a message.

    Do you have an opinion on this? Should more government bodies be including WeChat in their communications strategies, or are they trespassing in a space that’s not open to them?

    Thanks for sharing your paper! It gave me a lot to think about!

    1. Hi Maddison – thanks for your comments! I do believe that the Australian Chinese immigrant community is interested in participating in the Australian political environment and welcomes the ability to have information provided to them on a platform that they are familiar with and caters to their culture.

      This is a really interesting article on how it is deemed an important way for both mainstream and Chinese heritage politicians to reach voters in the Chinese-Australian community but it is evident that it has to be managed in a culturally specific and sensitive way. Sun (2019) notes on an incident where Scott Morrison used only WeChat to make a statement and not release it to the broader media, ‘There seems to be a view among Chinese communities that, in this instance, WeChat was used mainly to pacify a particular community, while also minimising the risk of alienating mainstream voters. This should alert politicians of all stripes that targeting Chinese-speaking communities via WeChat could backfire, if these communities feel that they are being treated as “them” rather than “us”.’

      Sun, W. (2019, March 27). Chinese social media platform WeChat could be a key battleground in the federal election. The Conversation.

  14. Hello Katherine,

    Your paper is extremely informative and makes some great points on how important WeChat is to the Chinese migrant community in Australia. I have heard of WeChat and to be honest probably more about the negatives associated with WeChat and how it is overseen by the Chinese government and could be used to mine for information that could be used against its users. I am very happy to have read your paper and realise its importance to Chinese immigrants not just in Australia but across the globe. I always thought it was simply a messaging app for people to keep in contact but your paper explains how it is far more and plays a vital role in the everyday lives of migrant Chinese as well as those users in China itself. I also agree with the important point you make that WeChat offers Chinese migrants a connection to their traditions and roots even though they have made the move to another country. You are correct in saying that these attributes WeChat offers play an integral part in helping these Chinese migrants to settle successfully into their new homes because they do not have to cut all ties with the lives they grew up with and can transition at their own pace and incorporate aspects of their Chinese heritage into their new lives in Australia.
    Thank you Katherine for a wonderful paper that I thoroughly enjoyed.


    1. Hi Bernard – Thanks for your comments and for taking the time to read my paper! I was surprised at the huge array of uses of WeChat too—I had thought it was *just* a messaging app before I did more research for my paper. I have had some questions about whether I think an app like WeChat would work in a country such as Australia and I was wondering if you think users would react positively to a mega app that does everything for them or if the security, surveillance and potential censorship issues would stop them?



      1. Hi Katherine,

        I think an app like WeChat launched for Australians would certainly be successful but definitely not to the same extent as WeChat has enjoyed. Australians are probably a little more sceptical and have that ‘big brother looking over my shoulder’ mentality which would limit such an app in Australia. I could certainly see expat Aussies in other countries making great use of such an app. I think I would use it if something like that was available.
        Thanks again for a great paper Katherine.


        1. I totally agree with you – I think Australians would be significantly more hesitant about using one app as a central node for their life. We are more used to living a life that is fairly free of censorship and surveillance. A good example I saw recently was how people reacted to the introduction of the COVID-19 app and the fears around government surveillance /data collection ( As I mentioned previously, Chinese people are used to this kind of issue and it is accepted as part of their life.

  15. Hi Katherine!
    What a fascinating and insightful paper! I have definitely learnt more about WeChat and what it offers from your paper. I’ve heard of WeChat but I’ve never really thought about it in terms of social media and what it offers to its users.
    I can see why this app holds a significant amount of importance to the Chinese community as it allows them to stay connected with their families back home whilst simultaneously keeping up to date with the current news in Australia which I think is quite amazing.
    The fact that it allows for cultural connection is also very fascinating and it makes me wonder whether WeChat might be the next popular social media platform users engage with due to the many functions it offers

    1. Hi Saranya – Thanks for taking the time to read my paper! I found the subject really fascinating as well. I also was interested in Eleanor’s comment which highlights the Japanese mega app LINE which seems to be used very similarly to WeChat. To your point about if WeChat might be the next popular social media platform users will engage with, I would say yes and no. Yes, I think people could potentially embrace the use of a mega app that runs in the same way but I don’t think it would be WeChat. For starters, only Chinese citizens can add money to their accounts as you must have a Chinese bank account to make these transactions so that rules out foreigners. There has also been much controversy around the surveillance and censorship of content by the Chinese Government which the Chinese citizens accept (even if it is begrudgingly) as part of their culture whereas I think that people coming from more democratic countries would not tolerate these kinds of restrictions. This is an interesting article about how WeChat censored information during COVID-19 Even though WeChat is supposedly not governed by Chinese law in other countries ( I think there are still hesitations from users about this. I also feel that people are warier about embracing a “one size fits all” application as there are concerns around privacy, data mining and commodification of personal data. This has become a big issue for Facebook users and the power that could be harnessed from the melding of Facebook’s apps >>>

  16. Hi Katherine, I found this paper really interesting to read as it is a topic that I don’t have a lot of knowledge on. I found it interesting that We Chat uses its application to educate users about Australian news and politics with live chats using political leaders such as Bill Shorten. I think it’s important to have a middle ground for Chinese people to maintain connection to their home country, yet still be connected to Australian issues, which this application seems to provide. It sounds similar to the Japanese application, LINE. I used to use LINE when I moved here from Japan and it did act as a middle ground which was essential to me at the time. It is definitely an effective way to maintain cultural connection over geographical distance. I didn’t have much knowledge about the cultural significance of We Chat but this paper really opened my eyes up to the importance of having these applications which create a connection between the Chinese and Australian community.

    1. Hi Eleanor – Thanks for your comments. I hadn’t heard of LINE and was interested to read that it was started as a disaster response app to the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. It definitely seems to sit in the same “mega app” category as WeChat with all of its features. Do you feel like it provided you with a sense of community when you moved from Japan? Did you start using other apps once you moved or do you still primarily use LINE? Do you think Australia would benefit from a mega-app like WeChat and LINE?

  17. Hi Katherine,

    A very interesting and well researched paper! As an Australian resident myself, I had no idea that WeChat held such a cultural significance in and beyond the Chinese community. When first reading, I thought it would be a similar platform to Line primarily used by the Japanese, yet it seems as if WeChat holds an intense connection to culture within the Chinese community. I believe that the value of culture is so precious, so I’m glad that Chinese migrants are finding ways to remain connected to their culture through online platforms, which isn’t really heard of (coming from a western standard).

    Do you think WeChat will ever become a dying platform? Many individuals say that Facebook is ‘on its way out’ so I wonder, will this be the same for WeChat due to possible new platforms endorsed by Gen Z users?

    Please consider reading my paper, where I discuss the plastic perception set by Instagram Influencers, and how this causes self-image issues in young and impressionable viewers

    1. Hi Layla – Thanks for taking the time to read my paper. I wasn’t aware of the significance either (even though my husband is Chinese) so it was a really interesting subject to research. I don’t think WeChat is going to lose any popularity as it is so entrenched in day to day life in China. For example, it is used to call taxis, order and pay at restaurants, dating, banking, paying bills, doing business, sharing photos, chat, online shopping etc. So it exists in connecting both networks AND communities. It kind of feels as though if you don’t use it, you may as well not exist (or be able to function easily). There may be other apps that young generations use for social media (such as TikTok – known as Douyin in China) but I think WeChat will reign for a very long time to come.

  18. Hi Kate,

    I was drawn to your paper because I have spent some time living and touring in China and have personally used the WeChat platform. I have used the platform in China and also since I have been back in Australia. I have also used it for business and personal purposes and I have to admit I find it quite fascinating.

    I agree that WeChat is an essential part of community building for Chinese immigrants here in Australia. The platform is such a necessary part of life in the mainland that it is easy to understand why people are still so connected to it even though they are now living in Australia. I don’t really feel that we have a platform that is as all encompassing as WeChat in the Western world. There is a reason that it has been described as a ‘super app’ (Chao, 2017).

    When we were touring in China, we quickly adopted WeChat as our main communication platform as application such as WhatsApp and Facebook were banned. We generally only really used the platform for communication but I was interested to see how our local promoters and crew would use the moments feature to update their friends about happenings in their life. It was quite an interesting blend between people using the app for professional reasons but still updating their moments page with personal observations.

    Our biggest issue with the app was that we were not able to add any money to our WeChat cash accounts because cash transfers are limited to those who own Chinese bank accounts. This became problematic as many of the smaller food vendors and convenience stores no longer take cash payments and only accept payments in the form of WeChat cash. It proved to me how important the application is to the Chinese locals.

    I still use the application occasionally to communicate with friends who are in China as there are limited ways to contact them. Although many are aware of the surveillance that the application enables, they tend to ignore this problem as it’s easier just to use this platform.

    How do you feel about the surveillance and censorship that happens on the platform? I thought this article was quite an interesting read –

    Do you think the Chinese community in Australia would migrate to a different platform if the application was banned by the Australia government?




    Chao, E. (2017, February 2). How Social Cash Made WeChat The App For Everything. Fast Company.

    1. Hi Mads – Thanks for taking the time to read and sharing your experiences of using WeChat. It was fascinating to read about the power and mass adoption of WeChat by the Chinese people and I hadn’t realised that some stores were now only taking WeChat cash as payment.

      The surveillance and censorship issues are worrying, especially in the current pandemic environment, and I read articles where users were all aware of it and continued to use it despite this, as it is just part of everyday life in China.

      I think the Chinese community would have no choice but to move to another app if it was banned in Australia but this would cause a lot of communication issues with friends and family back in China due to the ban of popular apps like Facebook, Whatsapp and Twitter. Alternatives include using chat/messaging apps like Apple’s iMessage (but due to the popularity of Huawei branded phones this is not available for everyone). If a ban was to happen and people were restricted to only utilising messaging apps it would remove the dynamic features that WeChat provides and I think would cause devastation within the community. When the US was looking at banning the app Frankie Huang wrote,”At a time when international travel is nigh impossible, our digital bonds become all the more precious and vulnerable. For many Wechat users in the US, it is the only thing that links them with loved ones they may not have seen for months, and may not know when they can finally reunite with. It is an extraordinary cruelty to sever these links at a time when we must lean on these technologies that span the distance we physically cannot travel.” I think this highlights the importance of WeChat and its role in building and maintaining connections and networks, especially in diasporic communities.

      Huang, F. (2020, August 7). US WeChat ban will mean more than just lost connections.

  19. Hello Katherine,

    Your piece was well structured, I enjoyed the way you described why Chinese migrants are obliged to use Wechat and not the other “Giant platforms” (Facebook, Twitter, etc..). Your definition of the online Chinese Cultural sphere was on point. It helped me understand how the Chinese migrants are communicating to their relatives in China. However, in my point of view, you could have come up with how they communicate during their festive period. For example, Chinese people are known to celebrate their new year in an extravagant style, during this festive period, how does Wechat serve as a tool to its users?

    Also, I would appreciate if you could have a look on my paper,

    1. Hi Avneesh – Unfortunately I couldn’t include everything that WeChat does or I would have been writing for a year! (It’s not called a mega app for no reason). You are right, lai see is exchanged at Chinese New Year and WeChat does support this and is very popular in the giving and receiving of the red packets. Users even have the ability to edit and personalise the digital envelopes with animations, gifs or messages including the number 8 which is very good luck in Chinese culture.

  20. Thanks for a fascinating read Katherine! I never realised what a community had been built around this platform (I had to look up WeChat as I had not had any experience with it!). I can see now why this topic interested you! I thought it very interesting to consider that to keep ties with homeland-based Chinese families, this was an app that was available to them when others are banned. I assume that makes it important to those who haven’t immigrated as well! I see how this would help in the maintaining of their cultural identity. Quite fortuitous for them in that sense. I was also quite fascinated by their business acumen on WeChat, not something I would have considered, I presume it makes more sense considering language barriers that may occur within Australia.

    1. Hi Emma – Thanks for taking the time to read my paper. I have to admit that I had to watch a lot of YouTube videos to get a sense of how the app was used and what it looked like. There was a survey done amongst users and they were asked if they would rather lose access to their WeChat account or lose their mobile device and everyone said that they would rather lose their device… I guess that really shows how important to everyday life the app has become! I was also interested in how Australian business have begun to use the app in certain locations that are frequented by Chinese tourists such as pharmacies where vitamins and supplements are bought in bulk to be taken back to China for friends and family. It shows how influential the app has become in the global market. I wonder if we will ever adopt it (or another app) to do all the same functions like this?

      1. The idea of adopting this or a like-minded app is an interesting concept. It does make you consider if we will see such a more broadly used app for worldwide consumption. There are so many social apps, and while this is social, you have pointed out it is much more than this, its connections are implemented into everyday life, not just as a means of communicating on such a personal level.

      2. Hi Katherine!
        I really enjoyed reading your paper, it really opened my eyes to understand how integral an app we do not frequently use here in Australia can be for other nations.
        I also agree with Emma’s assumption that the app must be important for those who haven’t immigrated as well.
        I cannot imagine having any app that caters for so many day to day functions, including paying for taxis! Do you believe that Facebook will endeavour to become more like WeChat in the future?
        – Grace

  21. Hi Katherine !
    You have elaborated a very interesting topic. Being myself a media student, I totally agree that WeChat is becoming not only important but building and strengthening the Chinese community in Australia. I have seen that many brands have registered to WeChat to export their goods to Taiwan, Singapore,etc. As well as many Australians and Chinese people using WeChat Pay to pay restaurants, book taxis and shop online. It is definitely becoming more than an app which connects Chinese people to their community in Australia, don’t you think so? The app might have been popular to connect the diaspora and the people but a bigger picture is taking form of Chinese marketing their culture and open to seize the opportunities to impact Australia on a higher level. Do you see what I mean ?

    1. Hi Ruby – Thanks for reading my paper. I do see your point about China using the app as a way to market its culture and goods globally but I would argue that the awareness let alone the use of the app outside the Chinese community is extremely limited in Australia. This is a great article which details the use of WeChat in Australia and why there may be hesitancy around using it especially with issues around surveillance and censorship.

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