Beijing accused the US on Wednesday of bullying after President Donald Trump ordered a ban on a series of Chinese apps in his last weeks in office, branding them a threat to national security.
Under the Trump administration, Beijing and Washington have clashed repeatedly over trade, technology, human rights and also the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the latest move to boost tensions, Trump ordered a ban on transactions involving Alipay, WeChat Pay and other apps linked to Chinese companies, saying they might route user information to the government in Beijing.
Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday the move was an example of “bullying” by the US and accused Washington of “stretching the concept of national security.”
“This harms both itself and others.”
Trump’s executive order is to require effect in 45 days — just weeks after he’s replaced within the White House by President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
But a senior administration official said the order and its implementation haven’t been discussed with the “potential incoming Biden administration.”
The apps targeted by the new ban were chosen due to the extremely high number of downloads, which meant tens of many users might be in danger of getting their data harvested, consistent with the administration official.
Trump’s order specifically named apps including Alipay, QQ Wallet, Tencent QQ, WeChat Pay and WPS Office. Alipay and Tencent didn’t answer queries.
Previous executive orders aimed toward banning TikTok — which is owned by China-based ByteDance — were derailed by court rulings indicating Trump had overstepped his legal authority.
Hua said the new order would “of course have some impact on related Chinese companies, but more important could be that it damages the interests of yank consumers and therefore the US.”
“The US talks a few free free enterprise and fair competition, but how does it behave?” she said.
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