US curbs on apps another example of abusing power

2021-01-07 12:04:29

  QR codes of the digital payment services WeChat Pay and Alipay are seen at a shop in Beijing, China on Aug 6, 2020. [Photo/Agencies] US President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps, including popular Chinese payment apps Alipay and WeChat Pay, over privacy concerns. The other apps are CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate and WPS Office. The executive order goes into effect in 45 days. Trump leaves office in two weeks. The president said in the order that the apps can access private information from their users. That information could be used to "track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information", he said. The order instructs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to evaluate other apps that could pose a "national security threat". Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that the ban is another example of the United States abusing national power to unjustifiably crack down on foreign companies. The order will have some impact on related Chinese companies, but more importantly, it will harm the interests of US consumers and the interests of the US. She urged the US to respect the principles of the market economy and fair competition and abide by international economic and trade rules to provide an open, fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for foreign companies, including Chinese ones, to invest and operate in the country. She added that China would take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese companies. Kingsoft Office, a Chinese software and internet service provider, said in a statement on Wednesday that the US government's ban on its office software WPS Office will not have a substantial impact on its development in the short term. WPS Office has more than 100 million users in overseas markets and most of them use the software for free. It only involves a small amount of advertising business. "The company continues to pay attention to overseas markets and is also reviewing the possible consequences of the US government order to clarify its possible impact on the company. We will release further announcements in due course," Kingsoft Office added. The Trump administration has targeted Chinese-owned social media applications, claiming that they pose a national security risk. In August, Trump issued two executive orders banning TikTok, a popular video-sharing app owned by Chinese company Byte-Dance, and social networking app WeChat, which belongs to Tencent. Both orders have faced legal challenges. The order banning downloads of WeChat in the US was blocked by a federal judge in September shortly after it was scheduled to take effect. Two federal judges also separately blocked the order concerning TikTok, which would have restricted US transactions with the company, effectively banning the app in the US. Thanks to the courts' ruling, both apps currently continue to operate in the US. The Trump administration has sought to overturn the rulings. Doubts expressed Trump's latest ban on Chinese apps has drawn an immediate reaction from Chinese communities in the US. At an online forum on WenxueCity, a website for Chinese people living in the US, some users expressed doubt over whether the order would really go into effect since TikTok and WeChat still operate. Alipay, owned by Chinese financial-technology giant Ant Group, has more than 1 billion users. Alipay and WeChat Pay are the two most popular payment apps, which jointly account for 90 percent of China's mobile payment market. A large number of merchants in the US have started to accept payment via Alipay, according to the company.