WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order prohibiting transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Alipay, the payment platform owned by Ant Group, and WeChat Pay, which is owned by Tencent.
The move, two weeks before the end of Mr. Trump’s term, could help lock in his administration’s harsher stance toward China and is likely to further rankle Beijing.
The executive order, issued late Tuesday, will bar any transactions with “persons that develop or control” the apps of Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, and WPS Office and their subsidiaries after a period of 45 days.
In the order, the president said that “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” continued to threaten American national security. “At this time, action must be taken to address the threat posed by these Chinese connected software applications,” he wrote.
The Trump administration has ramped up tariffs and waged a trade war against China in recent years. It has also targeted Chinese-owned social media services, saying they provide a conduit for Chinese espionage and pose a national security risk to the American public. Last fall, the Trump administration issued executive orders banning two other popular Chinese-owned social media services, TikTok and WeChat.
But both of those bans have become entangled in litigation, and the services continue to operate in the United States. That raises the question of whether American courts will issue an injunction to stop Mr. Trump’s latest bans on Chinese services as well.
In a statement, Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said he had directed his department to begin enacting the orders, “including identifying prohibited transactions related to certain Chinese connected software applications.”
“I stand with President Trump’s commitment to protecting the privacy and security of Americans from threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party,” he added.
The incoming Biden administration has not clarified whether it will continue to try to enforce Mr. Trump’s bans. Reuters earlier reported the signing.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.