Trump Signs Executive Orders to Ban US Transactions With Chinese Companies ByteDance and Tencent
President Donald Trump has signed two executive orders that would officially ban any U.S. transactions with the Chinese companies that own TikTok and WeChat, in an escalation of the ongoing technological cold war between the two countries.
The executive orders would prohibit "any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States," with ByteDance and Tencent, beginning in 45 days. TikTok, which is owned by ByteDance, said it was "shocked" by the executive order and that it will respond in court, if necessary.
TikTok has come under increasing scrutiny by the U.S. government due to concerns that it can theoretically be compelled by Chinese law to hand over all collected user data. Trump has said that TikTok must sell off its U.S. operations in 45 days and that the deal must include a substantial payment to the U.S. government, otherwise the app would be banned. China has reacted angrily to the threat, and warned that it would refuse to accept the "theft" of TikTok if the deal goes ahead.
Microsoft has publicly confirmed its intention to purchase TikTok in the United States and several other territories, and the company is currently in discussions with ByteDance. A previous report suggesting Apple is interested in buying the app turned out to be inaccurate.
WeChat, owned by Tencent, is heavily relied upon in China as a messaging platform, as an interface for numerous other apps, and to make mobile transactions. Most Western chat apps are banned in China, but WeChat is widely used around the world and has over 1.2 billion monthly active users.
The executive orders could also pose problems for a number of other businesses. Tencent is an investor in several U.S. companies including Tesla, Reddit and Spotify. It also owns a substantial amount of shares in Riot Games and Epic Games, the makers of League of Legends and Fortnite, respectively.
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