Wed. Mar 3rd, 2021


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Image: Shutterstock/Evan El-Amin

Outgoing President of the United States Donald Trump has signed a new executive order, this time taking aim at a new set of eight Chinese apps.

Included in the order are Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office.

“The pace and pervasiveness of the spread in the United States of certain connected mobile and desktop applications and other software developed or controlled by persons in the People’s Republic of China, to include Hong Kong and Macau (China), continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the executive order states. 

“At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by these Chinese connected software applications.”

Continuing with the justification he used back in August when denouncing TikTok and WeChat, Trump said the eight apps can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information.

He said such data collection threatens to provide the government of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party with access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information, which “would permit China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information”.

The executive order says that while many executive departments and agencies have prohibited the use of Chinese connected software applications and other “dangerous” software on federal government computers and mobile phones, prohibitions are not enough “given the nature of the threat from Chinese connected software applications”.

“The United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software applications to protect our national security,” it continues.

As such, the order, beginning in 45 days, bans any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with persons that develop or control the eight software applications, or with their subsidiaries.

The order follows one made by Trump in November that would require the  New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to delist a trio of Chinese telcos.

On New Year’s Eve, it was announced NYSE intended to delist China Telecom, China Mobile, and China Unicom Hong Kong in order to comply with the executive order.

The order sought to forbid trading and investing in any of the companies previously deemed to be Communist Chinese military companies by the US Department of Defense. It also looked to ban trading in any new companies that are given such a label.

By Monday though, the NYSE had reversed course, with the three telcos remaining on the exchange.

Despite the bans Trump placed on TikTok and WeChat, both apps still operate as a legal stoush continues.

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