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China accuses US of 'political suppression' after Trump's executive order targeting TikTok

The order comes into effect in 45 days and appears to ban transactions with the Chinese owners of the app.

US President Donald Trump issued the order last night.
US President Donald Trump issued the order last night.
Image: Michael Reynolds/DPA/PA Images

Updated Aug 7th 2020, 10:10 AM

BEIJING HAS ACCUSED the United States of ‘suppression’ after President Donald Trump ordered sweeping restrictions against Chinese social media giants TikTok and WeChat.

The orders, which come into effect in 45 days, bar anyone under US jurisdiction from doing business with the owners of TikTok or WeChat.

The vague wording leaves open the possibility that hosting the apps in the Apple and Google app stores could be covered by the ban. Trump had threatened a deadline of 15 September to “close down” TikTok unless Microsoft or “somebody else” bought it.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a regular press briefing that the US move came at the expense of American users and companies.

Wang said “the US frequently abuses its national power and unjustifiably suppresses non-US companies”.

“At the expense of the rights and interests of US users and companies, the US… is carrying out arbitrary political manipulation and suppression,” he added.

TikTok, Microsoft and WeChat owner Tencent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

TikTok is a video-sharing app that is widely popular among young people.

It is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, which operates a separate version for the Chinese market.

TikTok insists it does not store US user information in China and would not share it with the Chinese government.

WeChat and its sister app Weixin in China are hugely popular messaging apps, with many Chinese expatriates using WeChat to stay in touch with friends and family back home.

The apps are owned by Tencent, a major Chinese digital conglomerate.

WeChat also says it does not share data with the Chinese government and never has, and does not store international user data in China.

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Yesterday, it was announced that TikTok was set to open a €420 million data centre in Ireland, with the promise of hundreds of new jobs. 

With reporting from Dominic McGrath and AFP.

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