Update 7/1/2021: Reuters reported that US officials are considering whether to add Alibaba and Tencent in its blacklist of Chinese Companies that prohibits Americans from investing in them. The US government has alleged that both companies are owned or controlled by the Chinese military and security services and thus pose a national security threat to the US.
US President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) that banned the usage of several Chinese apps in transactions to address the “threat posed by applications and software developed and controlled by Chinese companies” in the US.
The EO in question, which was signed on the night of 5 January 2020, prohibits any transaction using AliPay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office “by any person… subject to the jurisdiction of the US” due to these applications allegedly collecting its users’ “personally identifiable information and private information.”
President Trump reasoned out in the EO that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chinese Communist Party is able to access Americans’ “personal and proprietary information” through the apps in question which allows them to track the locations of Federal Employees and contractors as well as to build files based on collected information.
The listed apps are reported to have a high number of downloads according to a senior administration official in the White House, which put millions of users’ personal and private information at risk of being recorded and harnessed without their knowledge.
The EO also stated that the continuation of these apps collecting these kinds of information confirmed to the White House that there is an intent to use the collected data “to advance China’s economic and national security agenda.”
This EO falls in line with President Trump’s agenda to remove “threats to national security” within the United States from the Chinese.
It can be noted that President Trump also attempted to have the hugely popular app, TikTok, banned in America for being a national security threat by cooperating with the PRC’s security efforts, although it has met with resistance from two federal judges blocking the restrictions.
However, the EO will take effect 45 days after it was signed, placing its execution date well into the Biden Administration.
It is still unclear if President Elect Joe Biden, who will be the sitting US president by the time of the EO’s implementation, will still put the EO into effect when he takes office after his inauguration on 20 January 2021.
The EO also directed the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, to continue to evaluate other Chinese Apps that may pose “an unacceptable risk to national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States,” suggesting that this might not be the end of the banning of Chinese apps in the US.
Written by John Paul Joaquin