In an extension of a trade war that has been raging for much of his presidency, President Donald Trump signed an executive order prohibiting purchases with eight Chinese applications, including Alipay and WeChat Pay.
However, the order goes into effect in 45 days, about a month after the election of Joe Biden as the next president, but the fate of Trump’s move is uncertain.
In August, the orders follow two other Trump signed blocking agreements with the famous TikTok video app as well as the key WeChat messenger app. The status of those apps in the U.S. is still uncertain, and it will presumably fall on Biden to deal with them, or not, with only 15 days left before Inauguration Day. The same goes with the executive order on Tuesday.
Tuesday, a spokeswoman for Biden’s office did not return a request for comment immediately.
Alipay is a commonly used digital wallet that is part of the kingdom of Jack Ma, founder of the Ant Company and e-commerce billionaire. WeChat Pay is a competing service operated by tech giant Tencent. CamScanner, QQ Pocket, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office are the others named in the order.
The Trump order cites unclear fears about applications that gather personal and financial information from Americans and turn it over to the communist government of China.
The order marks the latest effort by the Trump administration to hobble China, a growing economic powerhouse. It has struck out at China over the past few years with tariffs that have often roiled the U.S. stock exchange, thwarted mergers involving Chinese firms, and stifled the company of Chinese companies like Huawei, a producer of telephones and telecommunications equipment.
China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data hacks in U.S. federal databases and the Equifax credit service, and what U.S. tech firms can do in China is tightly regulated by the Chinese government.
Political observers expect Biden to attempt to restore coordination on climate change and coronavirus problems with Beijing. However, owing to general discontent with Beijing’s trade and human rights record and allegations of espionage and information theft, economists and political observers predict little major reforms.
But, on top of the continued attempts to combat a worsening pandemic after he takes office, grappling with the fallout from Trump’s new shot at China could also cause more problems for Biden.
Before making the latest attempt to block more Chinese applications, top Trump administration officials said they had not coordinated with the president-office. elect’s The apps were described as instruments for a communist government bent on “digital totalitarianism.”
As reporters asked if the administration was now taking these actions down to its final two weeks now of the Trump presidency, one official said the executive action should actually have been taken years earlier, “but better late than never.” The officials talked on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to openly address the executive action.
As part of Trump’s continuing attempt to “prioritise the safety and security of the U.S. homeland and the American people,” the order was framed by National Security Advisor Robert C. O’Brien.
The tariffs and directives of Trump against China have raised recurring worries among U.S. tech giants and their stockholders that the government of China would retaliate by making it tougher to do business in the most populous nation in the world. Among others who could be especially hard hit if that were to happen is Apple, which in its last fiscal year produced $40 billion in revenue in China, rendering it the third largest market for iPhone manufactures after the U.S. and Europe.
Apple emerged relatively unscathed from Trump’s fight with China against the fears of a backlash, allowing it to raise its market cap over $2 trillion in the wake of the pandemic.