By Katie Nelson
Image credit: Tricia Wang
Chinese netizens can once again breathe easy. Tencent, the nation’s largest internet company, has put to rest those God-awful rumors concerning the popular mobile message app WeChat charging for services; the idea of which triggered a small-scale war in the Chinese online community.
“Since early this year, we have encountered various rumors,” Tencent posted on the company’s Weibo account. According to the Global Times:
Tencent listed three major rumors, with the latest one saying that it would charge WeChat users 0.05 yuan (under 1 US cent) for each instant message and 0.1 yuan (1.5 US cents) for each voice message sent via its platform, starting on the coming July 1.
Wei Wuhui, an associate professor at the School of Media and Design with Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University told the Global Times:
The clarification by Tencent indicates that it will not charge fees to WeChat users in fear of losing users, but the company itself may have to bear higher costs for using the servers of the telecom operators for WeChat
This announcement took place days after millions of Chinese netizens gave a resounding “fuck you” to China’s telecom operators and government concerning the proposed fee. A Weibo post by the official account of Netease, an internet portal, summarized online users’ opinions about the supposed new fee for the WeChat application, saying:
If the government succeeds in imposing a fee on WeChat, it means that,
1. WeChat is a great product.
2. China is not a country with a market economy, but a country with a mafia economy.
3. Non-state owned enterprises are worth less than a fart.
4. Some relatives of top leadership are probably working for the three state-owned telecom operators.
5. The Chinese dream is just a dream.
6. Ma Huateng [Tencent’s boss] would be crazy not to emigrate.
The post was censored but not before it was reposted over 35,000 times.
According to a Sina News report, 90 percent of users said they would stop using WeChat if the application was no longer free.
Tencent president Liu Chiping told an audience at the Boao Forum for Asia on Sunday that the company will never charge for WeChat.