On August 6, US President Donald Trump released two executive orders to ban the Chinese messaging app WeChat, owned by tech giant Tencent with over one billion users worldwide. The ban is part of the Trump administration’s accusations targeting Chinese-owned video app Tiktok, denouncing both as “mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China, [which] continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States”.
The orders will take effect 45 days after issuance of the ban, and prohibit transactions related to WeChat, Tencent company, and its affiliates “by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States”. The WeChat ban will also take effect alongside Tiktok in mid-September, if the latter’s owner ByteDance is unable to reach an acquisition agreement with a US company.
So far, the actual details of “prohibited transactions” stated in the ban remain unclear. For example, will Google and Apple keep relevant app download services in their app stores? Considering the income sharing mechanisms for app stores, they are likely to constitute “transactions”.
The Trump administration has taken radical measures against China, under the backdrop of COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 US general election. On August 5, US Secretary of State Pompeo reiterated the US’ “clean 5G network plan”, again up playing the China security threat. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had responded to relevant moves by the US, calling it “an abused of national power, unreasonable suppression of designated non-US companies without any evidence, and violation of market economy”.
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