The Trump administration will begin blocking business transactions in the U.S. with popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok and messaging-app WeChat starting on Sunday.
The Commerce Department announced the new rules on Friday, barring TikTok and WeChat from U.S. app stores, but it could be rescinded depending on whether a deal that addresses national security concerns is reached.
“Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”
The announcement lays out two dates by which certain types of transactions will be banned. “Any other prohibitive transaction relating to WeChat or TikTok may be identified at a future date,” the Commerce Department said.
Earlier this month, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, ByteDance, rejected a purchase offer from Microsoft and Walmart, which had teamed up on a proposal. Instead, Oracle, a California-based multinational technology firm, agreed to become TikTok’s “trusted technology partner” in the United States, but that falls short of the Trump administration’s push for the app’s U.S. operations to be owned by a U.S. company.
The Sunday deadline coincides with the conclusion of the 45-day window President Trump set in his August executive order regarding ByteDance. The order said “the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China,” such as TikTok, “continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
ByteDance and TikTok have repeatedly claimed that they have not and would not turn over TikTok user data to the Chinese government, but national security experts have raised concerns about China’s 2017 national intelligence law, which requires all Chinese companies to assist Chinese intelligence services when asked — and to keep it secret. More than 100 million people in the United States use Tiktok.
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