President Trump issued executive orders Thursday night banning the Chinese applications TikTok and WeChat, saying they pose a threat to U.S. national security.
Mr. Trump’s order against TikTok, a video-sharing mobile app, bars any transactions with its Chinese parent company starting in 45 days.
“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 told Congress in a letter.
TikTok, a video-sharing mobile application owned by the Chinese company ByteDance Ltd., has raised concerns in Washington for capturing automatically vast swaths of information from its users. The company now must sell its U.S. operations by Sept. 15 to Microsoft Corp or another U.S. firm.
The president said TikTok’s data collection “threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.”
“TikTok also reportedly censors content that the Chinese Communist Party deems politically sensitive, such as content concerning protests in Hong Kong and China’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities,” the president said. “TikTok may also be used for disinformation campaigns that benefit the Chinese Communist Party.”
His order on WeChat also bars any transactions with the owner Tencent Holdings starting in 45 days.
“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users — threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information,” the president said. “In addition, WeChat 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.”