Trump signs order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps including Alipay

President Donald J Trump

President Trump has signed an executive order prohibiting trades with eight Chinese software applications, such as Ant Group’s Alipay, ” the White House stated, escalating tensions with Beijing earlier President-elect Biden takes office this month.

The order, initially reported by Reuters, tasks the Commerce Department with defining which transactions will likely be banned under the directive and targets Tencent Holdings’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay also.

The move is aimed at controlling the threat to Americans posed by Chinese software applications, which have large user bases and availability of sensitive information, a senior official told Reuters.

A US Tencent spokeswoman didn’t immediately comment.

The arrangement signed by Trump additionally names CamScanner, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office and states “the United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software applications to protect our national security.”

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A US official told journalists at our partner news agency Reuters that even though the arrangement gave the Commerce Department 45 days to act the department intends to behave prior to Jan. 20 when Trump leaves office to identify illegal transactions.

Trump’s order says “by accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information.”

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Another official said the order mirrors before Trump executive orders signed in August directing Commerce to obstruct some trades with WeChat and Chinese-owned Tiktok seeking to bar some trades that were blocked by US courts.

Any new transactions banned by the Trump government are most likely to face similar court challenges as the Commerce Department failed when it sought to obstruct transactions with WeChat and TikTok. The Commerce orders would have effectively banned the Chinese app’s use in the United States and barred Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s app stores from offering them for downloading for users that are new.

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US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement he supports Trump’s “commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The latest action has been under debate within the government for an extended period. Many administration officials are eager to cement the hardline US position with China on a number of fronts before Trump leaves workplace.

Last month, the Commerce Department added dozens of Chinese companies, including the country’s top chipmaker SMIC and Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, to some trade blacklist.

Also last month the government published a record of Chinese and Russian companies with alleged army ties that limit them from purchasing a range of US products and technology.

In November, the government put on hold an attempt to blacklist Ant Group, the Chinese financial technology company affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba.

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The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed this news article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Alexandra Alper and David Shepardson in Washington. Editing by Leslie Adler, Matthew Lewis and David Gregorio.

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