With only two weeks in office, President Donald Trump has issued a new executive order targeting Chinese payment apps.
The Tuesday order bars Citizens of the United States or people in the US use nine Chinese payment apps. It continues the White House’s past efforts cut off the US market from Chinese hands apps such as TikTok. Yesterday’s order echoes previous concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s data collection:
“The ongoing activity of the PRC and the CCP to steal or otherwise obtain data from US individuals makes it clear that the intention is to use bulk data collection to advance China’s economic and national security agenda.”
The targeted apps are AliPay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay and WPS Office. The executive order will take effect in 45 days, by which time Trump will already be absent. Given that his earlier order to get ByteDance to divest from TikTok was stopped in court while still in office, there’s not much reason to believe Trump will get his way here.
As of the time of publication, Biden’s transition team had not responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment as to whether the new administration plans to implement Trump’s order.
The focus on payment apps is particularly strong. Recent moves of the US National Security Apparatus have clearly expressed concerns about payment systems in China, particularly a central bank digital currency with a database accessible to the CCP.
Many in crypto and the wider tech industry have warned of a technology cold war between China and the US, including Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook and several leaders of Ripple Labs. While the situation between the two countries is clearly tense, both Facebook and Ripple saw serious investigations from US regulators concerned about their operations when they brought up those arguments, somewhat diminishing the effect of their patriotism.
While the barriers between the private and public sectors are more obscure, China’s treatment of the private companies targeted by Trump is already pretty bad. Ant Group, Alibaba’s fintech affiliate that owns AliPay, recently came into contact with the Chinese government. Xi Jinping is said to have personally put the restriction against Ant Group’s aborted IPO, since then Alibaba’s stock has fallen and the founder of both, Jack Ma, has disappeared.
Another giant of Chinese technology, Tencent, owns three of the entities targeted by Trump’s order: QQ Wallet, Tencent QQ and WeChat Pay. While Tencent has avoided Ant Group’s high-profile attempts with the CCP, China’s much-anticipated digital currency may be an attempt to muscle in on the company of the country’s impressive fintech sector.