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Biden reverses Trump order to ban TikTok, WeChat

Last week, Biden had but signed an EO that bans US investment in certain Chinese companies in the defence and surveillance sectors

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Putting a question mark on the authenticity of his China policy, US President Joe Biden has signed an executive order revoking the Trump-era bans on application TikTok and WeChat and instead signed another executive order (EO) to protect American information technology and communications supply chains from threats that include those from China. “Today, President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) to further address the ongoing national emergency declared in E.O. 13873 of 15 May 2019, with respect to the threat posed to the United States’ information and communications technology and services (ICTS) supply chain,” the order read.

“President Biden revoked and replaced three EOs that aimed to prohibit transactions with TikTok, WeChat, and eight other communications and financial technology software applications; two of these EOs are subject to litigation,” it said.

The order takes the place of a series of EOs brought in by former President Trump in 2020, which blocked certain applications from US app stores and took further measures to prevent them from operating in the US.

The Biden administration earlier this week had banned 59 military and surveillance firms from acquiring US investors or investments, expanding an original list of 44 Chinese companies targeted by Trump in a November executive order.

The White House on Tuesday had said it would fight any “unfair foreign competition” that hurts United States supply chains, citing China as one of the risks it had to look out for.

Moreover, the United States Senate on 8 June voted to approve a $ 200 billion bill to boost US tech firms to compete against China, prompting an indignant response from Beijing for being cast as an “imaginary” US enemy. 

The Trump administration had contended that WeChat and TikTok posed national security concerns with the threat that the sensitive personal data of US users could be collected by China’s government.

Both TikTok, which has over 100 million users in the United States, and WeChat have denied posing national security concerns.

The Trump administration had appealed judicial orders blocking the bans on TikTok and WeChat, but after Biden took office in January, the US Department asked to pause the appeals.

Biden’s executive order directs the Commerce Department within 120 days to make recommendations to protect US data acquired or accessible by companies controlled by foreign adversaries.

Last week, Biden signed an executive order that bans US investment in certain companies in the defense and surveillance technology sectors. The order replaced a similar Trump-era order that did not withstand legal scrutiny.

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