- U.S. President Donald Trump announces a sweeping ban on U.S. transactions with China’s ByteDance, owner of the TikTok video-sharing app.
U.S. President Donald Trump announces a sweeping ban on U.S. transactions with China’s ByteDance, owner of the TikTok video-sharing app, and Tencent, operator of the WeChat app, starting in 45 days, as tensions with Beijing, escalate significantly.
The executive orders come as the Trump administration said this week that it was stepping up efforts to purge “untrusted” Chinese apps from US digital networks and calling the Chinese-owned TikTok short-video app and WeChat “significant threats” app.
Tiktok, the hugely popular video-sharing app, has fired on data collection by US lawmakers and the administration over national security, amid increased tension between Washington and Beijing.
Trump issued orders under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a law that grants sweeping power to the administration to bar American firms or citizens from trading or carrying out financial transactions with sanctioned parties.
US State Secretary Mike Pompeo said Wednesday expanded efforts on a program called “Clean Network” will concentrate on five areas and include measures to prevent various Chinese apps and Chinese telecommunications firms from accessing confidential information about American citizens and businesses.
The new development comes shortly after the US ordered China to vacate its consulate in Houston, Texas, followed by an order from China asking the US to vacate its consulate in Chengdu in the southwest.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will identify transactions that are covered by the ban after the order comes into effect in mid-September. The order leaves unanswered crucial questions about the restrictions.
James Lewis, a technology expert with the think tank of the Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the moves appeared coordinated with Pompeo ‘s announcement on Wednesday.
“It is the difference between the US and China in the digital world,” he said. “China will retaliate.”
Lewis said the U.S. has only around 3 million WeChat users, and the rest are Chinese.
“That’s much more a risk to collect than TikTok. On Chinese, on the other hand, it is gathering,” Lewis said.
Tencent shares on the news dropped 4 percent.
Trump said he would accept the sale of TikTok ‘s U.S. operations to Microsoft Corp this week if the U.S. government had a “substantial portion” of the purchase price but said he would suspend the U.S. business on Sept. 15.
There are 100 million U.S. TikTok users and Republicans have raised questions about the political failure to ban the famous U.S. app.