President Donald Trump’s WeChat executive order shows the war on Chinese subterfuge is bigger than just TikTok.
Trump issued two different executive orders on Thursday evening: The “Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok” placed a ban on TikTok from being used in the U.S., and the “Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat” placed a ban on WeChat.
“The Chinese company's popular messaging app WeChat could now be banned in the United States, if Tencent doesn't agree to sell it by mid-September,” CNN Business reported August 7. “Trump had already said that he would ban TikTok if a deal for the app is not reached with an American company, but the inclusion of WeChat indicates that Washington is broadening its efforts to restrict some Chinese apps from operating in the United States.”
WeChat is a communication app used for instant messaging and “provides a range of services, including instant messaging and the ability to send money to other users” CNN Business noted.
The executive order stated that “any transaction that is related to WeChat” would “be prohibited beginning 45 days after the date of this order.”
The order justified the decisive measure by explaining:
“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users. This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information. In addition, the application captures the personal and proprietary information of Chinese nationals visiting the United States, thereby allowing the Chinese Communist Party a mechanism for keeping tabs on Chinese citizens who may be enjoying the benefits of a free society for the first time in their lives.”
The order went on to provide an example of the dangers WeChat poses from back in March 2019: “[A] researcher reportedly discovered a Chinese database containing billions of WeChat messages sent from users in not only China but also the United States, Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia.”
The order also made note that this app has capabilities not only to censor, but to actively meddle with American politics: “WeChat, like TikTok, also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive and may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party.”
America is far from the only country which has taken a tough stance on Chinese apps. “These risks have led other countries, including Australia and India, to begin restricting or banning the use of WeChat,” the order stated. “The United States must take aggressive action against the owner of WeChat to protect our national security.”
Fox Business quoted China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Wang Wenbin, as he declared, “The U.S. is using national security as an excuse and using state power to oppress non-American businesses. That’s just a hegemonic practice. China is firmly opposed to that."
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