The University of California has warned its students and faculty both to not use messaging apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat in China. It expressed concern that their communications could be used against them in the country so the students and faculty should exercise caution and not use the apps when they’re in China.
It’s notable that one of the biggest school networks in the United States is coming out with such guidance. It follows the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada based on a request from U.S. authorities. She faces possible extradition to the United States due to suspected violations of sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran.
Multiple Canadians have been detained in China since her arrest while two of them are being investigated on the suspicion of “activities that endangered China’s national security.” It’s evident that the guidance from the University of California is meant to limit the risk of its students and faculty being caught up in this.
“While the use of WhatsApp, WeChat and like messaging apps are legal in China, we have seen in the latest espionage charge of a US citizen in Russia where the use of WhatsApp has been cited in his espionage charges,” the guidance reads. It mentions the case of Paul Whelan who is a U.S. citizen and was arrested in Russia last month on allegations of espionage.