- President Donald Trump issued executive orders banning US transactions with Chinese tech firms Tencent and ByteDance
- Tencent owns the messaging service WeChat and ByteDance owns the popular short-video-sharing app TikTok.
- The president's directives will take effect in 45 days, but the scope of the bans remain unclear,
- The executive orders said after the 45 days, Secretary of Commerce shall identify the transactions that will be subjected to the restriction
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President Donald Trump has issued executive orders banning transactions between the United States (US) and 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.
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A report by CNN indicated the executive orders would ban the social media apps from operating in the US in 45 days if they are not sold by their Chinese-owned parent companies.
"The app may be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party, and the US must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security", Trump said in one order.
WeChat...automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users...and threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information," he said in the second order.
The orders, however, did not state whether a certain amount of money from the sale needs to be sent to the US Treasury Department, which the president has been insisting on for several days.
While the scope of the ban remains unclear, the executive orders said after the 45 days, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross shall identify the transactions that will be subjected to the prohibition.
The order would basically ban the app in the US as it prohibits any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property.
They will be subject to the jurisdiction of the US with Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The orders on Thursday, August 6, came as the Trump administration said it was stepping up efforts to purge untrusted Chinese apps from US digital networks citing security threat.
The moves come as Washington and Beijing clash on an array of issues.
They range from the novel coronavirus pandemic and Beijing's policies in the South China Sea, Hong Kong and Xinjiang, to the US's support for Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory.
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TikTok said on Friday, August 7, it was shocked by the move and it could go to US courts to ensure it was treated fairly.
"We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly - if not by the [Trump] administration, then by the US courts," it said on its website.
TikTok has consistently denied the allegations by the US saying user data is stored in the US itself with a backup in Singapore.
It further stated that its data centres were located outside China, implying the information was not subject to Chinese law.
Still, experts have pointed to existing legislation in China which could force local Chinese companies like ByteDance and others to hand over data to Beijing.
Microsoft announced Sunday, August 2, that it was in talks with ByteDance to acquire TikTok’s business in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand within the next three weeks.
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On Monday, August 3, Trump set September 15 as the deadline for TikTok to find a US buyer.
Failing to do so, he said, would lead him to shut down the app in the country.
In an unusual declaration, Trump also said any deal would have to include a substantial amount of money coming to the US Treasury.