Trump Announces Ban Of TikTok & WeChat If They Aren’t Sold To U.S. Companies
President Donald Trump on Thursday issued an executive order banning transactions with the Chinese owners of messaging app WeChat and app TikTok, beginning in 45 days, further raising tensions with Beijing.
The executive order called Tencent Holdings Ltd, the owner of WeChat and ByteDance’s video app TikTok “significant threats.”
“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States. At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by one mobile application in particular, TikTok,” the executive order said.
“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users,” Trump’s separate executive order reads. “In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives.”
The order also gives Microsoft a 45-day deadline to acquire the ByteDance for it to be able to continue operations in the U.S.
The company, Tencent Holdings, also has a stake in several popular video game developers, including Activision Blizzard and the maker of Fortnite. Tencent also owns all of League of Legends maker Riot Games. Tech experts raise concerns about possible damage on the companies operation.
TikTok says it has 100 million U.S. users. According to research firm App Annie, there were 50 million weekly active users of TikTok in the U.S. during the week of July 19. WeChat has over a billion users in China and has been downloaded 19 million times in the United States, according to Sensor Tower data. The ban of the messaging app may introduce barriers in communication between the U.S. and China since Whatsapp, Facebook and other U.S. messaging apps are banned in the U.S. and for many people, it was the only way to reach each other.
“We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process,” TikTok said in a statement on Friday, adding that it would “pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded.”
TikTok also claimed they do not disclose user data to the Chinese government, saying they store the data mostly in Virginia.
China on Friday expressed displeasure with Trump’s actions and said the U.S. will “bear the consequences” of its action.
“The U.S. is using national security as an excuse and using state power to oppress non-American businesses. That’s just a hegemonic practice,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters.