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AFP
August 8, 2020

Trump order targets Chinese internet giants TikTok, WeChat

World

AFP
August 8, 2020

US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping restrictions against Chinese-owned social media giants TikTok and WeChat, his latest explosive move aimed at countering China’s rising global power.

Trump late on Thursday signed executive orders giving Americans 45 days to stop doing business with the Chinese platforms, effectively setting a deadline for a potential pressured sale of viral video sensation TikTok to Microsoft.

The president cited national security concerns for the moves, which also threw into doubt the American operations of WeChat’s parent firm, Tencent, an uber-powerful player in the video gaming industry and one of the world’s richest companies.

Trump has taken an increasingly heavy hammer to US relations with China, challenging it on trade, military and economic fronts, and Thursday’s effort provoked more outrage in Beijing. The new restrictions sent Tencent shares into a spin, with the issue tanking as much as 10 percent at one point in Hong Kong trade, wiping almost $50 billion off its market capitalization.

Other Asian markets also took note, with investors concerned about increasingly bitter relations between the economic titans that some fear could lead to a renewal of their painful trade war.

Officials from both sides are due to meet next Saturday to review a trade deal signed earlier this year. "TikTok automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users, including Internet and other network activity information such as location data and browsing and search histories," Trump’s order said. Data could potentially be used by China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, build dossiers on people for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage, it alleged.