U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Ant Group’s Alipay, the White House said, escalating tensions with Beijing before President-elect Joe Biden takes office this month.
The order, first reported by Reuters, tasks the Commerce Department with defining which transactions will be banned under the directive and targets Tencent Holdings Ltd’s QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay as well.
The move is aimed at curbing the threat to Americans posed by Chinese software applications, which have large user bases and access to sensitive data, a senior official told Reuters.
A U.S. Tencent spokeswoman did not immediately comment.
The order signed by Trump also names CamScanner, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office and says “the United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software applications to protect our national security.”
A U.S. official told Reuters that even though the order gave the Commerce Department 45 days to act the department plans to act before Jan. 20 when Trump leaves office to identify prohibited transactions.
Trump’s order says “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.”
It added the data collection “would permit China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information.”
The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment