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Trump admin banning China’s TikTok, WeChat downloads starting Sunday in the US

TikTok video sharing app. (Pexels/Released)
September 18, 2020

President Donald Trump’s order to ban the popular Chinese-owned video-sharing app TikTok and the WeChat messaging and social media app is set to take effect on Sunday.

On Friday the U.S. Department of Commerce announced bans on transactions with the two apps, which will go into effect on Sunday, September 20. The Commerce Department order effectively bans new downloads of the apps, starting Sunday.

The order states that beginning Sunday, the prohibited transactions include, “Any provision of service to distribute or maintain the WeChat or TikTok mobile applications, constituent code, or application updates through an online mobile application store in the U.S.”

In addition to shutting down transactions for both apps on September 20, WeChat will also see its ability to process payments or transfer funds fully stopped. In an interview with Fox Business on Friday morning Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the additional move against WeChat on Sunday will effectively shut down the platform “for all practical purposes.”

The order will have a heavier immediate impact on WeChat, which CNBC reported is a popular marketing and sales tool for U.S. companies doing business in China and other countries. WeChat is a popular alternative to social media apps like Facebook and Instagram, which are banned in China. WeChat has been an important means of facilitating e-commerce for companies operating overseas.

TikTok will still be permitted to function until November 12. The Commerce Department has a separate, November 12 deadline before TikTok’s U.S.-based cloud and internet app hosting services will be suspended, which will in effect stop the app from running in the U.S.  The November 12 deadline could allow TikTok to make a deal to sell their assets to a U.S. company and avoid being shut down.

Ross told Fox Business the “only real change as of Sunday night” for TikTok will be that users “won’t have access to improved apps, updated apps, upgraded apps or maintenance.”

Ross then said, “The basic TikTok will stay intact until November 12. If there’s not a deal by November 12 under the provisions of the old order, then TikTok would also be, for all practical purposes, shut down.”

TikTok has been in talks to have the U.S. computing firm, Oracle, buy the app.

In its Friday notice, the Commerce Department said, “The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has demonstrated the means and motives to use these apps to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and the economy of the U.S. Today’s announced prohibitions, when combined, protect users in the U.S. by eliminating access to these applications and significantly reducing their functionality.”

In a statement accompanying the Commerce Department notice, Ross said, “Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party. At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of U.S. laws and regulations.”