ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter
US-China tensions

US expands ban on Chinese apps to include WeChat Pay and Alipay

Trump continues crackdown on China two weeks before term ends

U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order to ban transactions with eight Chinese apps just weeks before his term expires. (Source photos by Reuters)

PALO ALTO, U.S. -- U.S. President Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps, including Alipay, the payment app affiliated with Alibaba, and Tencent-owned WeChat Pay, describing the companies as national security threats.

The ban is to take effect in 45 days, nearly a month after Trump is due to leave office.

"The pace and pervasiveness of the spread in the United States of certain connected mobile and desktop applications and other software developed or controlled by persons in the People's Republic of China, to include Hong Kong and Macau (China), continue to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States," said Trump in an executive order signed on Tuesday.

"At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by these Chinese connected software applications," he added.

The executive order will prohibit any transaction between U.S.-based individuals or companies and eight Chinese apps, including Alipay and WeChat Pay, the two most popular payment apps in China.

The order also prohibits U.S.-based transactions with Tencent-owned messaging app QQ and digital payment app QQ Walley, image scanner app CamScanner, file transfer tool SHAREit, camera app VMate, and WPS Office, a suite of office software.

The definition of "transaction" will be clarified by the Secretary of Commerce, also in 45 days, according to the White House announcement. Trump issued the orders under powers contained in the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

"I stand with President Trump's commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party," U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement on Tuesday.

U.S. national security advisor Robert C. O'Brien issued a statement saying, "The Chinese government requires that all commercial companies, big and small, support the Chinese Communist Party's political objectives as Chinese regulators have recently demonstrated."

China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking at a regular news briefing on Wednesday, said the country will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights of companies.

Trump's order will likely force U.S. app stores, including Google's and Apple's, to remove Alipay and other apps. It is unclear whether using or downloading the apps will be prohibited in the U.S. after 45 days.

While Alipay and WeChat are widely used in mainland China, they do not have as broad a user base in the U.S. Both apps require a valid Chinese I.D. and mainland bank account to register.

According to an IPO filing by Ant Financial, the Alibaba Group affiliate that operates Alipay, 95.6% of its revenue was generated from mainland China while the overseas market makes up about 4.4% of its total revenue. Shares of Alibaba dipped 2% in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

Trump has been tightening crackdowns on China in the last months of his presidency, including introducing a number of orders to curtail American trade with, and investment in, companies it says are linked to the Chinese military. This crackdown nearly forced China's big three state-owned telecommunications operators to delist from the New York Stock Exchange.

It is not the first time for the Trump administration to take on Chinese apps. Trump issued two executive orders in August to ban popular video app TikTok and messaging app WeChat, also citing national security risks. Both orders have been blocked by federal courts after they faced a series of lawsuits brought by app users and the companies themselves.

Besides the upcoming U.S. ban, Alipay and its parent company, Alibaba Group Holding, are also facing regulatory headwinds back home.

Last month, Chinese authorities launched an antimonopoly investigation against Alibaba Group Holding and summoned executives at its Ant Group finance affiliate for talks, in a sign that Beijing is heightening its crackdown on Jack Ma's business interests and the power of the country's tech giants.

In November, a series of new regulations forced Ant to shelve a planned $35 billion initial public offering that was to be shared between the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Hong Kong.

Ant Financial and Alibaba Group did not respond to requests for comment.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world
.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more