'Bullying': China slams US over Trump's order to ban Chinese apps

China on Wednesday slammed the US over President Donald Trump's executive order banning transactions with eight Chinese software applications, including Ant Group's Alipay mobile payment app, the White House said, escalating tensions with Beijing two weeks before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. 

 In the latest move to raise tensions, Trump ordered a ban on transactions involving Alipay, WeChat Pay and other apps linked to Chinese companies, saying they could route user information to the government in Beijing.  

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday the move was an example of "bullying" by the US and accused Washington of "stretching the concept of national security." 

 China will take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights of companies in view of the Trump order, Chunying told a regular briefing on Wednesday, adding that the US was abusing its national power and unreasonably suppressing foreign companies. 

 Trump's executive order is to take effect in 45 days -- just weeks after he is replaced in the White House by President-elect Joe Biden on January 20. 

 But a senior administration official said the order and its implementation have not been discussed with the "potential incoming Biden administration." 

 The apps targeted by the new ban were chosen because of the extremely high number of downloads, which meant tens of millions of users could be at risk of having their data harvested, according to the administration official. 

 The order argues that the United States must take "aggressive action" against developers of Chinese software applications to protect national security. 

 It tasks the Commerce Department with defining which transactions will be banned under the directive within 45 days and targets Tencent Holdings Ltd's QQ Wallet and WeChat Pay as well. 

 The order also names CamScanner, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate which is published by Alibaba Group subsidiary UCWeb, and Beijing Kingsoft Office Software's WPS Office. 

 "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," the executive order states. 

 Such data collection "would permit China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information," the document adds. Under the Trump administration, Beijing and Washington have clashed repeatedly over trade, technology, human rights and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

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