China has officially said the Chinese would have no reason to keep Apple products, including the iPhone, if WeChat is banned.
The Trump administration has been putting increasing pressure on Chinese firms, including Huawei, ZTE, TikTok and WeChat. All four companies have been banned, with TikTok and WeChat’s ban going into effect on September 15. TikTok has been desperately trying to find a buyer before the ban, in order to keep its US, Australia and New Zealand operations going. There has been no such discussions regarding WeChat.
The impending ban has been a major concern for many US tech companies. Apple is especially vulnerable, as it relies on China for a fifth of its sales. WeChat is so important in China that it is used for everything, including messaging, purchasing, paying bills, social media and more. A phone without WeChat would be viewed as crippled in Chinese society. The Trump administration has tried to reassure companies they could still do business with WeChat within China, but the app is very popular among Chinese nationals abroad as a way to stay in contact with family and friends.
In addition to the fallout with consumers, there are concerns over manufacturing. Apple relies on China for a large part of its manufacturing, making it vulnerable to retaliation from the Chinese government.
It remains to be seen if some kind of deal will be reached to avoid a worst-case scenario.