Trump Orders Ban on Transactions With 8 Chinese Apps, Including Alipay

January 5, 2021 Updated: January 5, 2021

President Donald Trump late Tuesday signed an executive order that bans transactions with eight Chinese connected software applications, including Ant Group’s Alipay.

The order released by the White House bans transactions with people that develop or control Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office, as well as with their subsidiaries.

Trump said in the order that additional steps must be taken to protect U.S. national security in the face of the “pace and pervasiveness” of the spread of certain software applications in the United States, developed or controlled by people in China, including Hong Kong and Macau, which “continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

“By accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information,” the president’s executive order states.

“This data collection threatens to provide the Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 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.”

Trump to board Air Force One
President Donald Trump walks to board Air Force One prior to departure from Joint Base Andrews in Md., on Dec. 23, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump said in a message to Congress, “The continuing activity of the PRC and the Chinese Communist Party to steal or otherwise obtain United States persons’ data makes clear that there is an intent to use bulk data collection to advance China’s economic and national security agenda.”

The order says the Commerce Department must within 45 days identify the prohibited transactions involving the eight Chinese applications, including payment services, and identify and take action against other software applications, as well as develop regulations and policies to prevent the export or access of user data to foreign adversaries.

“I stand with President Trump’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party, and the Department of Commerce will leverage the authorities of the E.O. to continue our mission to secure the nation, the economy, and the people of the United States,” Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

He added that he has directed his department to start implementing the directives of the order.

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross
Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross at a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 5, 2020. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

In response to Trump’s executive order, national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement, “The Chinese government requires that all commercial companies, big and small, support the Chinese Communist Party’s political objectives as Chinese regulators have recently demonstrated.”

“China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy explicitly aims to co-opt or coerce civilian enterprises into assisting the People’s Liberation Army. … President Trump continues to prioritize the safety and security of the United States homeland and the American people,” O’Brien added.

Last month, the Commerce Department added dozens of Chinese companies, including the country’s top chipmaker SMIC and Chinese drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd, to a trade blacklist.

Also last month, the administration published a list of Chinese and Russian companies with alleged military ties that restrict them from buying a range of U.S. goods and technology.

In November, the administration put on hold an effort to blacklist Ant Group, the Chinese financial technology company affiliated with e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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