By Adedapo Adesanya
The tech war between the United States and China has shown no sign of slowing down as President Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.
The ban is to take effect in 45 days, nearly a month after Trump is due to leave office and will continue when President-elect, Mr Joe Biden, takes oath of office.
He described the companies as national security threats, saying they could give out user information to the government in Beijing.
“The pace and pervasiveness of the spread in the United States of certain connected mobile and desktop applications and other software developed or controlled by persons in the People’s Republic of China, to include Hong Kong and Macau (China), continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” said Mr Trump in an executive order signed yesterday.
“At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by these Chinese connected software applications,” he added.
The executive order will prohibit any transaction between US-based individuals or companies and eight Chinese apps, including Alipay and WeChat Pay, the two most popular payment apps in China.
The order also prohibits US-based transactions with Tencent-owned messaging app QQ and digital payment app QQ Walley, image scanner app CamScanner, file transfer tool SHAREit, camera app VMate, and WPS Office, a suite of office software.
The order will likely force app stores, including Google and Apple, to remove Alipay and other such apps. It is, however, unclear whether using or downloading the apps will be prohibited in the US after 45 days.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Ms Hua Chunying, speaking at a regular news briefing today said the country will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights of companies.
Mr Trump has been tightening crackdowns on China in the last months of his presidency, including introducing a number of orders to curtail American trade and investment with companies it says are linked to the Chinese military.
This is not the first time the Trump administration is taking on Chinese apps.
Business Post had reported that Mr Trump issued two executive orders last year to ban popular video app TikTok and messaging app WeChat, also citing national security risks.
Both orders have been blocked by federal courts after they faced a series of lawsuits brought by app users and the companies themselves.
This adds to Alipay’s woes, whose parent company, Alibaba Group Holding, faces regulatory headwinds following an antimonopoly investigation against it and its founder, Mr Jack Ma.
In November, a series of new regulations forced its financial affiliate, Ant, to abandon a planned $35 billion initial public offering (IPO) that was to be shared between the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges.
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