Outgoing US President Donald Trump has banned eight high-profile Chinese apps on national security grounds, including well-known payment tools like AliPay and WeChat Pay.
President Trump has signed an executive order arguing that “aggressive action” must be taken against eight notable Chinese applications - Tencent’s QQ, QQ Wallet, CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate, WPS Office, as well as AliPay and WeChat Pay. The order gives the US Commerce Department 45 days to determine which transactions will be banned under the directive.
The move raises questions about the state of US-China relations as new President Joe Biden prepares to take office later this month.
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“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 executive order reads (opens in new tab).
“This data collection threatens to provide the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party with access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — which would permit China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information.”
An outgoing order
Trump’s order is likely to place further strain on US-China relations and represents a fitting closing act for the Trump presidency, which has frequently adopted a tough stance against Beijing. Joe Biden could look to revoke the executive order when he takes office but his team has not yet commented on the likelihood of that taking place.
Many of the companies affected by Trump’s order are also yet to issue a response but Kingsoft, the makers of WPS Office, stated that the new legislation was unlikely to have a substantial effect on business operations.
With Biden’s inauguration set for January 20, a big question mark remains regarding how he will approach the threat posed by China. The incoming president is unlikely to be quite as aggressive as Trump, however, who has ignited a trade war that has had significant economic impacts in both the US and China.
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