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 the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the latest move to raise tensions, Trump ordered a ban on transactions involving Alipay, WeChat Pay and other apps linked to Chinese companies, saying they could 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 take effect in 45 days — just weeks after he is replaced in the White House by President-elect Joe Biden on January 20.
But a senior administration official said the order and its implementation have not been discussed with the “potential incoming Biden administration.”
The apps targeted by the new ban were chosen because of the extremely high number of downloads, which meant tens of millions of users could be at risk of having their data harvested, according to the administration official.
Trump’s order specifically named apps including Alipay, QQ Wallet, Tencent QQ, WeChat Pay and WPS Office. Alipay and Tencent did not respond to queries.
Previous executive orders aimed at 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 might be that it damages the interests of American consumers and the US.”
“The US talks about a free market economy and fair competition, but how does it behave?” she said.
– Details vague –
The executive order leaves it to the secretary of commerce to recommend which kinds or transactions with apps to prevent and how.