US President signed an executive order on Tuesday which is meant to ban transactions with some eight Chinese software services among which is the Ant Group’s AliPay as the White House reportedly stated this is causing more escalation between China and the US government especially ahead of Joe Biden taking office later on this month.
The story was reported by Reuters as stating that the Commerce Department was tasked with defining which transactions will be banned under the directive and targets Tencent Holding Ltd’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay.
The main reason for this move is to curb the threats of Chinese software services on Americans as the former are said to know too much and have access to large user bases and can easily access sensitive data.
A U.S. Tencent spokeswoman did not immediately comment.
Software services including CamScanner, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office are all among the bnned services by Trump. “The United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software applications to protect our national security.”
A U.S. official told Reuters that even though the order gave the Commerce Department 45 days to act the department plans to act before Jan. 20 when Trump leaves office to identify prohibited transactions.
Trump’s order says “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.”
It added the data collection “would permit China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But this won’t be the first executive order being carried out by the Trump’s administration as an earlier executive order was signed last August which directs the Commerce Department to block transactions with WeChat and TikTok.
Meanwhile the big hurdle to climb is the similar fate any of such order might face in court just as when the case of WeChat and TikTok were both refused by the Court late last year.
The Commerce orders would have effectively banned the Chinese app’s use in the United States and barred Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s app stores from offering them for download for new users.
In a statement by the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, he supports the Trump’s “commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”
Meanwhile the recent barring has face opposition within the administration for an extended period of time. Majority of the administration officials are said to be willing to cement the hardline US position with China on a number of fronts before Trump leaves office by January 20th.
In addition were dozens of other Chinese companies including SIMC and SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd, the popular DJI drone maker among others which were added to the trade blacklist just last month.
Then the administration also published a list of Chinese and Russian companies with alleged ties with the government and government. The ban was meant to prevent them from buying a range of US goods and technology.
In November, the administration put on hold an effort to blacklist Ant Group, the Chinese financial technology company affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba but that seems to be over so soon.