Trump Issues Executive Orders Against Chinese Owners Of TikTok And WeChat

Aug 6, 2020,09:51pm EDT

Jack Brewster Forbes Staff Business I’m a news reporter for Forbes.

Updated Aug 6, 2020, 10:33pm EDT

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday that will prohibit Americans from doing business with ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, and a similar order that bans transactions involving WeChat, a social messaging app, with its owner, Tencent, beginning September 20, in an effort to bar the China-owned social media platforms from the U.S. due to national security concerns.

President Trump Departs White House For Visit To Whirlpool Factory In Ohio
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 06: U.S. President Donald Trump departs the White House for a trip to Ohio … [+] GETTY IMAGES

KEY FACTS

Both orders are set to take effect in 45 days, though the orders will likely be challenged in court.

Microsoft is in talks to purchase the operations of TikTok in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, a deal that Trump says he would support after initially expressing disapproval, and the two sides are hoping to complete a deal by September 15, which is before the 45-day deadline.

The Trump administration had been threatening such a move for weeks over national security concerns, and on Friday the president told reporters on Air Force One he would “ban” TikTok from the U.S.

In the order, the president accused the companies of providing the Chinese government with access to Americans’ data and personal information, “allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”

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Tencent, the parent company of WeChat, has investments in American companies such as Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, and Reddit, though it’s not clear if Trump’s order would force the company to divest from those companies as well.

CRUCIAL QUOTE

“The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the president wrote.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

On Sunday, Microsoft said it would “move quickly” to finish a deal with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance “in a matter of weeks.” 

TANGENT

The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to ban TikTok from use on government devices.

KEY BACKGROUND

TikTok had moved to distance itself from its Beijing-based owners, ByteDance, as it fell into the Trump administration’s crosshairs, hiring an American CEO and launching a U.S.-based job initiative. “We’re not planning on going anywhere,” the company said in a statement after Trump announced the coming “ban” on Friday.

FURTHER READING

TikTok Responds To Trump: ‘We’re Not Planning On Going Anywhere’ (Forbes)

TikTok Works With DHS To Tackle Foreign Interference In 2020 Elections—Even As It Faces Accusations Of Chinese Control (Forbes)

Is This The Real Reason Why Trump Wants To Ban TikTok? (Forbes)Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website. Send me a secure tipJack Brewster

I cover national politics for Forbes. Previously, I’ve written for TIME, Newsweek, the New York Daily News and VICE News. I also launched my own startup, Newsreel, a politics news platform for a young audience

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