Overseas users can now call mobiles and landlines in China for free

China Telecom now lets overseas users of its chat app, Yixin, call mobiles and landlines in China for free.

China Telecom rolled out its own messaging app with Internet firm NetEase a month ago to take on the wildly-popular WeChat. Yixin’s Android app on Google Play has been updated to Version 1.2 already, and it is expected that the update will be rolled out on iOS soon.

WeChat is the complete mobile communication and social networking app. It is developed and maintained by Tencent Inc. WeChat is free, cross-platform, and full-featured, WeChat is the best way to keep in touch with friends and family.

Right now only Android users can download and use Yixin app to get the free call service as its iOS version is not available yet. Also you only get 60 minutes of free international talktime during the week-long holiday to celebrate China’s National Day. It is also only available for Chinese users traveling overseas — who have pre-installed Yixin — to call back home and not for domestic users based in China to call out to international destinations.

Still, that’s better than nothing and already pretty generous considering that many Chinese typically take the chance during this week-long holiday to go overseas and have to fork out money for expensive international calls. The move is likely to draw Chinese users to Yixin based on goodwill itself and could ignite comparisons with WeChat.

Furthermore, Yixin could probably extend its free international calls indefinitely or offer lower prices to keep its users — because China Telecom, as an operator, has the tools to roll out differentiating call-related features, and this in itself could possibly help in its battle against WeChat.

As Yixin is not available globally, it is also clear that China Telecom is only interested in defending its turf, but will leave the international dreams to WeChat. It is little wonder that WeChat has been stepping up its efforts overseas — such as by getting football star Lionel Messi to front its advertisements — as it faces such a formidable threat on home soil.