President Donald Trump has signed an order banning U.S. transactions with eight Chinese digital payment platforms, including Ant Group Alipay, in 45 days, when he will no longer be in office.
The order is the outgoing administration’s latest attempt to use national security powers against Chinese tech companies, but it will be up to President-elect Joe Biden to decide whether or not to apply the policy.
The executive order, which ordered the Commerce Department to write rules outlining which payments will be prohibited, will impact Tencent’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay, as well as CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate and WPS Office.
The order is likely to face legal challenges similar to those mounted against the president’s earlier efforts to force Chinese owner ByteDance’s TikTok sale and ban the messaging app from WeChat. But Biden could also suspend or clear politics when he takes office.
Apps like WeChat Pay and Alipay have their largest customer base in Greater China, and the number of users in the United States is relatively low.
The order is the latest blow to Ant co-founder Jack Ma, who has not been seen in public since Chinese regulators suspended $ 35 billion Ant’s IPO and launched an antitrust investigation into Ali Baba.
Trump’s order, which fears the platforms threaten national security, could significantly disrupt international trading systems operating across international borders.
Senior administration officials said they believe the move could help end the encroachment of Chinese data collection and prevent the collection of personal information such as texts, calls and photos. by an adversary.
But they haven’t identified specific cases of data theft using the apps. Instead, they highlighted the size of the payment platforms, saying their reach made them likely targets for Chinese data collection efforts.
“The Chinese government demands that all business enterprises, large and small, support the political objectives of the Chinese Communist Party,” National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said in a statement.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released a statement saying he ordered his department to carry out the order.
“I support President Trump’s commitment to protect the privacy and security of Americans against threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” he said.
The 45-day schedule reflected a similar period in the WeChat and TikTok executive orders, according to one of the officials who informed reporters on the condition of anonymity, and there were no plans to speed up the implementation. before the end of the administration. The Trump administration did not notify Biden’s transition team of the order, the official said.
The decree was first reported by Reuters.
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