As announced, the apps are being banned because they are claimed to be threats to the US national security, as well as the possibility of the apps being used to track and build dossiers on US federal employees.
The order says: “by accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information.”
Apart from the payments platform, Tencent QQ, CamScanner, SHAREit, VMate and WPS Office are also included within the order, which is expected to take effect from mid-February.
The Trump administration has put a lot of pressure on Chinese companies in its final months in office, including those it considers a national security risk. This has resulted into several executive orders against a range of Chinese firms arguing that they could share data with the Chinese government. China has however, consistently denied these claims and responded by imposing its own export laws.
The order further stated that: “The United States must take aggressive action against those who develop or control Chinese connected software applications to protect our national security.”
Among the Chinese companies under pressure from the US government is the social media app TikTok which In August was ordered to either shut down or sell off its US assets. Despite missing the deadline to complete the sale, the US is yet to shut down the app.
The latest ban comes as the White House quietly pushed the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to consider a second U-turn on its decision to delist three Chinese telecoms giants – China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom which are in line with another executive order. However the NYSE reversed its decisions on Monday.