US President Donald Trump has signed a decree to ban individuals and companies in the US from trading with TikTok or WeChat, two of the most popular Chinese-made apps, starting September 20.
The decree cites data collection and Chinese censorship within the app as the main reasons for the ban. “This data collection threatens to give the Chinese Communist Party access to private information about Americans and may be able to use it to track down the location of officials to build blackmail files and conduct corporate espionage.”
In the decree, Trump also refers to the Uyghurs and protests in Hong Kong. “TikTok would also censor videos that the Chinese Communist Party finds politically sensitive, such as about the Hong Kong protests and the treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China.” In addition, the US president argues, China could use the app to spread disinformation. “Like about the origin of the coronavirus.”
For the same reasons, Trump also wants to ban trading with WeChat and parent company Tencent in a separate decree. The decree is the final step after three years of concerns and investigations by the US government into TikTok. Chinese owner ByteDance took over the app in 2017 and changed its name from Musical.ly to TikTok. The app has hundreds of millions of users.
Microsoft confirmed on Monday that it is in negotiations with ByteDance about the TikTok acquisition. Microsoft and ByteDance have been given until September 15 to close a deal by US President Trump. The decree takes effect on September 20. India previously banned the use of TikTok and dozens of other Chinese apps.