The US is expected to ban the Chinese mobile phone applications Tiktok and WeChat from American app stores today.
Stemming from two executive orders issued by the Trump administration on August 6, today’s bans make good on the orders’ promises to halt potential and perceived Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence over American citizens. Citing Chinese business requirements that stipulate that the CCP must retain majority control and appoint the leadership of any corporation operating within China, the Trump administration has claimed that Tiktok and WeChat cannot be trusted with American user data.
Under the ban, users will no longer be able to download or update either app through official app stores, although access for current TikTok users will remain unaffected. Tiktok’s parent company ByteDance has attempted to salvage the app’s US market by addressing the Trump administration’s concerns through a recently articulated plan, which would incorporate Silicon Valley’s Oracle into Tiktok’s operations.
Barring an injunction, expect Tiktok and WeChat to be removed from US app stores today. In the short-term, the ban will not significantly impact Tiktok’s usage, but do significant damage to WeChat’s US user base. This damage is a result of the Trump administration’s ban on WeChat’s core payment system, which will likely cause a digital bank run as users abandon WeChat and move their currency to AliPay. In the medium-term, expect the ByteDance-Oracle deal to be adamantly rejected by both the US and China. The deal is a non-starter as it neither satisfies President Donald Trump’s demand that TikTok be majority-owned by a US business nor President Xi Jinping’s demand that Tiktok’s code remain untouched by foreign businesses.
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Bilal is the Director of Training and Development. He holds a master’s degree in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University where he extensively researched the US war in Afghanistan. Previously, Bilal has worked independently throughout mainland China as a teacher and as a domestic political communications fellow with Murmuration.