WeChat, although first released in 2011, took a couple of years to slowly became omnipresent. It’s almost hard to believe that it’s just been on the radar for less than five years. We’ve weaved it completely into our daily lives; from buying school supplies on JD, talking to fam back home, sending a few RMB to family via wallet, or scanning a QR code at your local Sichuan noodle shop. It’s one of the world’s truly indispensable “super apps,” especially for living in China. But besides these myriad social and financial uses, can WeChat also be used by governmental agencies or the court system? Apparently, yes.
According to China Daily, a trial held in Fuquan, Guizhou province was conducted entirely using WeChat to legalize the divorce between a long unrequited couple. The couple, who were married in 1989, had been living in different cities for seven years for various job opportunities. Eventually, they separated their lives completely in all ways except actual divorce. Since the couple had been living separately for so long, the trial was simple. Using Judge Deng Chao as a mediator, the couple communicated via voice messages, photos, and video calls. Because of the clarity of the evidence and the couple’s cooperation, the actual trial took just twenty minutes.
This case could open the floodgates. Divorce rates in China have been rapidly rising, especially amongst younger couples pressured into marriages by meddling family members. It’s possible that unhappy, tech savvy young couples living in separate cities, or simply being unable to stand being in the same room with one another, would opt to use WeChat to speed up court cases and reduce costs.
According to website Yibada, The presiding Judge on the Guizhou case, Deng Chao, said “We’ll continue to try to hear simple cases via video. But for complicated ones, couples will still be asked to show up in court.”