President Donald Trump has signed an executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese apps including Alipay and WeChat Pay. The order goes into effect in 45 days, at which point Joe Biden will be the president, so its fate is unclear.
The orders follow two others Trump signed in August banning dealings with the popular video app TikTok as well as the main WeChat app. The fate of those apps in the U.S. is still unclear, and with just 15 days left until Inauguration Day, it will likely fall to Biden to deal with them — or not. The same goes for Tuesday's executive order.
A representative for Biden's office did not immediately return a message for comment Tuesday.
Alipay is a widely used digital wallet that is part of the empire of e-commerce billionaire and Ant Group founder Jack Ma, China’s richest entrepreneur. WeChat Pay is a rival service operated by tech giant Tencent.
Trump's order cites unspecified concerns about the apps collecting Americans' personal and financial information and turning it over to China’s communist government.
The order is the Trump administration’s latest attempt to hobble China, a rising economic superpower. Over the past several years, it has waged a trade war with China, blocked mergers involving Chinese companies and stifled the business of Chinese firms like Huawei, a maker of phones and telecom equipment.
China-backed hackers, meanwhile, have been blamed for data breaches of U.S. federal databases and the credit agency Equifax, and the Chinese government strictly limits what U.S. tech companies can do in China.
Political analysts expect Biden to try to resume cooperation with Beijing on issues such as climate change and the coronavirus. However, economists and political analysts expect few big changes due to widespread frustration with Beijing’s trade and human rights record and accusations of spying and technology theft.