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WeChat and TikTok ban in U.S. in 45 days

President Donald Trump on Thursday issued executive orders banning U.S. transactions with Chinese tech firms Tencent and ByteDance. Tencent owns Chinese messaging app WeChat, and ByteDance is the Beijing-based parent company of the widely popular short video-sharing app TikTok. The ban will take effect in 45 days and may attract retaliation from Beijing.

While the scope of the ban remains unclear, the executive orders said that after 45 days, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross “shall identify the transactions” that will be subjected to the prohibition. WeChat “automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information,” Trump said in the executive order banning the app, adding that the application also captures personal information of Chinese nationals visiting the U.S.

The order would basically ban the app in the United States as it prohibits “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd.” Tencent shares in Hong Kong tumbled almost 6.9% as of 11:38 a.m. HK/SIN on Friday. A similar order was issued for TikTok and its Beijing-based owner, ByteDance.

While the move puts pressure on ByteDance to sell TikTok to Microsoft or other U.S. companies within the 45-day window, the implications for WeChat and Tencent could be broader depending on guidance from the Trump administration, Eurasia Group analysts said. “The US actions against TikTok and WeChat could be a turning point in Beijing’s calculus around how to respond to the US policy actions that have now either impacted or threatened to impact all of China’s national tech champions,” the analysts wrote.

Trump issues executive orders banning U.S. transactions with WeChat and TikTok in 45 days, CNBC, Aug 7

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