US President Donald Trump’s order to ban US transactions with Chinese owners of short video-sharing app TikTok and messenger app WeChat cited India’s decision to purge the two applications earlier in June. The US restriction on the transactions will kick in after 45 days, mid-September.
“The risks are real,” the presidential directive said, accusing the mobile applications of capturing vast swaths of information from its users that may potentially be accessed by the Chinese Communist Party. The data captured by TikTok could potentially allow China to track locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail and conduct corporate espionage.
The US President went on to cite restrictions on use of TikTok on federal government phones by the US armed forces, homeland security and the transportation security administration.
Then he turned to India’s ban on Chinese mobile applications to build the case for his own set of restrictions.
“The Government of India recently banned the use of TikTok and other Chinese mobile applications throughout the country; in a statement, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asserted that they were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India,” President Trump said.
For its ban on WeChat, a mobile app largely used by the Chinese community in the United States, Trump referenced restrictions placed by India and Australia.
“These risks have led other countries, including Australia and India, to begin restricting or banning the use of WeChat. The United States must take aggressive action against the owner of WeChat to protect our national security,” he said.
India, which has been locked in a standoff with China at its border in East Ladakh, was the first country to axe 59 mobile applications with close links to China. India said these apps threatened the country’s “sovereignty and integrity”
India’s 29 June order did not explicitly ban people from using the mobile apps. But it forced app stores to boot out the 59 applications, and later their proxies, presenting the world with a model to strangle the ability of Chinese mobile apps to operate.
Trump’s ban uses the same template, his payback to China that has right from the beginning shut out US apps and websites such Facebook and Google from operating in China and instead, helped build its brand of technology firms such as Alibaba Group holding to Tencent Holding.
The first impact of the US directive was visible in the share market, erasing $ 30 million from the Internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd ’s market value and sending the yuan to its biggest slump in two weeks, according to news agency Bloomberg. Before Friday’s drop Tencent was worth $686 billion, making it the world’s eighth-largest company by market capitalisation and bigger than Berkshire Hathaway Inc.