The US prohibits transactions with 8 Chinese software applications

On 5 January 2021, President Trump issued an "Executive Order Addressing the Threat Posed By Applications and Other Software Developed or Controlled By Chinese Companies," taking aim at makers of Chinese software applications.

Beginning 18 February 2021, the Executive Order prohibits certain "transaction[s] by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States with persons that develop or control [..]" the Chinese software applications Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office. The Secretary of Commerce is tasked with identifying such prohibited transactions, and persons that develop and control the applications.

The Secretary of Commerce is further instructed to continue to evaluate and to "take appropriate action" against Chinese software applications that may pose an "unacceptable risk to national security, foreign policy or economy", and to provide recommendations to "prevent the sales or transfer of United States user data" to foreign adversaries. Secretary Ross has said in a statement that the Department of Commerce has begun implementing the order's directives.

Linking the identified applications to the PRC and the Chinese Communist Party, President Trump said in a message to Congress that such applications threaten US interests by accessing and capturing sensitive information from users, with an intent to "advance China's economic and national security agenda."

This week's order is the latest step taken by the US to counter China's Civil-Military Fusion strategy by targeting tech companies, following up on "Executive Order 13873 Securing the Information and Communications Technology and Services Supply Chain" from May, 2019.

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