China threatens retaliation for Trump’s WeChat, TikTok ban

Sept. 19 (UPI) — The Chinese government on Saturday threatened sanctions after the Trump administration’s ban on WeChat and TikTok.

China’s Commerce Ministry said companies on its “unreliable entities” list, which it created last year after the United States placed tighter restrictions on China’s Huawei Technologies, would be banned from investing in China or trading with the Chinese market.

Though the Chinese government hasn’t named entities on the list, state media has reported that Apple and Google could be sanctioned amid the souring of U.S.-China relations.

China would probe and take “corresponding actions” against any firm that “harmed China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, violate market rules, or halt contractual obligations with Chinese companies or take discriminatory measures that severely hurt Chinese companies’ legitimate interests,” the ministry said in its statement.

The sanctions could also result in individual executives being investigated and having their visas canceled, the ministry said, adding that it would establish a new internal division for such probes.

The U.S. Commerce Department announced the ban Friday against Chinese social apps TikTok and WeChat, and said that the ban will start Sunday, “to protect the national security of the United States.”

As of Sunday, existing users will not be able to make upgrades of the video-sharing app TikTok, which has more than 100 million users in the United States. New downloads of the app also will not be allowed.

The ban also shuts down all transferring of funds and transactions on WeChat and bars companies from hosting, delivering content or permitting any Internet transit.

WeChat had 3.3 million active users in the United States as of August, according to App Annie, an analytics company.

The announcement comes as the Commerce Department weighs approval for an agreement by TikTok to sell a minority stake to U.S. tech company Oracle.

Oracle said Monday that it agreed to partners with TikTok one day before it was initially slated to be banned from the United States. Microsoft, which had hoped to acquire TikTok, said in a blog post Sunday that TikTok’s owner, ByteDance, won’t be selling to them.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added Friday that the app will “for all practical purposes be shut down” by Nov. 12 if no deal is reached with the White House.

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