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China fumes over US ban on TikTok, WeChat

August 7, 2020

Beijing has reacted angrily to the United States' restrictions on the use of social media giants TikTok and WeChat. The US is "carrying out political manipulation and suppression," the Chinese foreign ministry said.

App Tiktok WeChat
Image: picture-alliance/NurPhoto/I. Aditya

China accused the United States of "political suppression" after President Donald Trump signed twin executive orders restricting US citizens' use of TikTok and WeChat.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters that the decision came at the expense of Americans.

Trump's move, to be introduced in 45 days, bars anyone under US jurisdiction from doing business with the owners of TikTok or WeChat.

Read more: What is China's world order for the 21st century?

Trump's orders, one for each app, deem the use of TikTok and WeChat a threat to US "national security, foreign policy, and economy."

Trump said that the TikTok app could be used for disinformation campaigns, benefiting the ruling party in China. The president added that data collection by WeChat would "allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information."

Abuse of power

However, spokesman Wang said: "The US is using national security as an excuse and using state power to oppress non-American businesses. That's just a hegemonic practice. China is firmly opposed to that," he said.

Wang added that Trump's act has come "at the expense of the rights and interests of US users and companies. The US is carrying out arbitrary political manipulation and suppression."

The US ban also extends to Chinese company Tencent, which owns WeChat. The order was issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, that can bar US citizens from dealing with sanctioned parties.

It comes as the world's two biggest economies collide over a host of issues — from the coronavirus pandemic to democratic rights in Hong Kong; from increased tariffs to raising tensions in dealings with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

jsi/aw (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)