Friday, August 7, 2020

Trump Issues Bans On China's TikTok, WeChat

President Trump has issued a pair of executive orders that would impose new limits on Chinese social-media apps TikTok and WeChat, escalating tensions with Beijing and effectively setting a 45-day deadline for an American company to purchase TikTok’s U.S. operations, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The orders bar people in the U.S. or subject to U.S. jurisdiction from transactions with the China-based owners of the apps, effective 45 days from Thursday. That raises the possibility that U.S. citizens would be prevented from downloading the apps in the Apple or Google app stores.

It also renews pressure on Microsoft Corp. and TikTok’s parent, Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., to reach a deal for the app’s U.S. operations. The TikTok order formalizes Mr. Trump’s earlier calls for shutting down the app should no American buyer complete a deal within 45 days. Contracts agreed to before the 45-day period elapses aren’t subject to the prohibitions in the order.

Mr. Trump’s first order argues that TikTok poses an economic and national-security threat to U.S. interests. U.S. officials have expressed concern that China’s authoritarian government would have access to the data TikTok collects from users, including Americans. TikTok has said it would never hand over such data.

“This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information—potentially allowing China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage,” the order says.

The Thursday orders are likely to be met with indignation in China, where talk of a TikTok sale has sparked anger and is hardening long-held suspicions that the U.S. aims to sabotage the country’s efforts to grow its technology. The orders come at a low point in U.S.-China relations, with an economic face-off between the two countries escalating.

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