US President Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing sanctions against Chinese mobile applications TikTok and WeChat late on Thursday, invoking his emergency economic powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the National Emergencies Act, and 3 U.S. Code § 301. Trump stated that the spread of Chinese mobile apps throughout the US “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy” of the country.
The order expresses concerns that the data collected from users on the named apps allows the Chinese Communist Party to access personal information and track the location of federal employees and contractors. It also asserts that these apps censor politically sensitive content, which means that the apps can be used for disinformation campaigns that would benefit the Chinese Communist Party.
The order will prohibit any transaction related to WeChat or TikTok, increasing pressure on the apps to sell their US assets to an American company. This order adds to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13873 of May 15, 2019.
Other countries have also taken actions against TikTok and other Chinese mobile apps. On June 29, India banned TikTok, WeChat, and 57 other Chinese mobile apps.
China’s foreign ministry said Friday that it firmly opposes these bans, as the companies comply with US laws and regulations. The ban begins 45 days after the date of the order.