Life in China: WeChat

12 Jan

As I’ve mentioned before, China = no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.  However, the Chinese are nothing if not inventive, and they have their own wonderful systems for instant messaging, status posting, and picture sharing.  

The first is called QQ, and I’m still getting used to that system because it is almost entirely in Chinese. They have an English version, but the English doesn’t cover many of its tools. It is a little more widely used only in that students use it more often in a day (think Facebook). Every student I’ve met also has a program called WeChat (said Weesheen), and it is how students and foreigners contact one another. It is also the replacement for Twitter for many students, so it is important to be familiar with the program.  

WeChat is owned and operated by a company called Tencent, China’s “largest internet service portal.” In addition to WeChat, Tencent operates QQ and many other systems. The company is widely known throughout all of China, and is considered an exemplary business.  


WeChat is actually an app that is primarily intended for use on handheld devices. You can download the app from the WeChat website at  The process is pretty simple, and the website can be found in English.  Download options are available for Apple, GooglePlay, Blackberry, Nokia, and your computer (Windows & Mac). You can either visit your device’s store and download the app or get it off their website here.

If I recall correctly, you have to download the app on a handheld device before you can use it on your computer, similar to Line. You just enter your Username, Password, and a Phone Number. They will text your phone number and you register for an account.  

Setting up your account is also simple ~ provide a profile picture, tell them where you are from, and your pretty much done.


WeChat has four basic pages: “WeChat”, “Contacts”, “Discover”, and “Me”

As this picture shows, the navigation is all at the bottom of the screen, and it is easy to move from page to page. 


“Me” offers you

  • the place to post new status updates (“My Posts”) – you upload a photo and type in your message. Then up it goes for your friends to see.
  • a list of your (“Favorite”) posts from other people.
  • a place to use all the extras Tencent has to offer (Wallet”)– ordering a taxi, wallet, donating to charity, etc. Just play around to see what’s available.
  • Emoticon and moving sticker animations to add to your messages to friends (Sticker Gallery“)
  • and of course (“Settings) for you to find account info and other important stuff.


“Discover” gives you:

  • (‘Moments”) where you can see yours and others status updates and posts. You can share pictures, links, and little messages with each other.  This is kind of like the Facebook status or a Tweet. Usually short and simple
  • (“Scan QR Code”) allows you to add contacts, upload company links, find sales, and all the other little things you do with those codes.  
  • (“Shake”) and (“People Nearby”) are highly unadvised – they tell you what WeChat users are in your vicinity. It also tells them about you, which leaves you open to creeps (experience talking).
  • (“Games”) – most are in Chinese.



Contacts” is mostly self-explanatory. It has:

  • (“Recommended Friends“) is where you’ll find invitations from people who have added you. 
  • (“Group Chats”) is where you find chats that include multiple people.
  • (“Tags) sorts your contacts by tag.
  • A list of all your contacts by name.



WeChat‘ is the home for all your message threads with contacts. They will be sorted by last updated, and if there is a new message a small red number will show up.  Just click the name and their message will appear.


You can add new contacts in two main different ways. If you look at the contacts page, check out the far top-right corner. You will see a little man with a + sign. Click that and you can add contacts:

  • Input their WeChat ID / Phone # / or QQ ID into search bar
  • Scan their QR Code as found on their device. 

If they want to scam your QR Code, it’s easy.  

  • Go to “Me”
  • Click on your Profile Photo.
  • Click “My QR Code”
  • Have them scan the code with their device.

If they add you, you will find the invitation under “Recommended Friends.” Click their invitation, and look at their profile.  If the far top-right corner you will see three dots. Click that and select “Set Remarks and Tags.” Now you can add a tag like “Class 1” or “Zhengzhou” and sort by tags later to find who you want. Now hit “Accept.”

If you don’t want this person to add you, click the same three dots and select “Add them to Blocked List”


Everything else is really straightforward. The only other thing that has thrown a few users is how to add emoticons or stickers or other little things like pictures  to your messages.  

If you click on the message bar to start typing look to the right and click the little smiley face.Now you will see all your emoticons (4 pages right now). Click on through the buttons on the bottom to add your stickers. If you want to see what a sticker does before posting it, hold your finger down on it until it does its thing.

Now look back up on the grey message bar. Click the (“+”) symbol. Now you can add images make a video call or do other fun things. 

If you want to erase your message, touch it and then press the recall button that shows up. then click the trashcan icon that shows up on the bottom.  You can also touch it and then choose forward or email to send the message on. If it is in a foreign language, you can translate it in the same way.


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