New U.S. executive order bans transactions with eight Chinese apps

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United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order this week, aiming to ban U.S. transactions with eight Chinese apps and services, according to a report by Reuters. The current administration has a history of imposing or attempting to impose restrictions on Chinese companies, with one recent example being ByteDance’s TikTok, which it tried to ban last summer.

Just like before, the executive order cites security issues with these Chinese apps, which could potentially allow China to “track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information”. The executive order targets eight apps, including payment services Alipay, QQ Wallet, and WeChat Pay, as well as popular apps such as CamScanner, SHAREit, and WPS Office.

In the hours following the executive order, China has said that it will take the “necessary measures” to protect the rights of its home-grown companies. Kingsoft, the company behind WPS Office, has stated that the order isn’t expected to have any significant impact on its business in the short term, but other targeted companies also had no comment.

As with TikTok, there’s a 45-day period for the Commerce Department to decide which transactions should be banned under the executive order, but an official has stated that action will be taken before January 20, the day of the inauguration of Joe Biden as President. Biden could choose to revoke the order once taking office, but the transition team has made no comment on the matter.

The planned restrictions on TikTok last year ended up not going through, as courts believed they violate freedom of speech. The administration believes that such an argument wouldn’t apply to the apps in this executive order, however.

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