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China Says WTO Supports Them Against TikTok, WeChat Ban

 |  October 5, 2020

China announced that it has found an ally in its fight against the US efforts to impose restrictions on TikTok and WeChat, the mobile apps under fire by the Trump administration.

Reuters reported President Donald Trump’s directives are in violation of rules imposed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Geneva-based international organization whose mission is to ensure global trade flows as smoothly and freely as possible.

In August, citing data security issues, President Donald Trump issued two executive orders banning transactions with the TikTok and WeChat apps or their parent companies, ByteDance and Tencent Holdings, respectively.

“Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users,” the executive order stated. “This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.”

WeChat, a social media, messaging and digital payments app, boasts it has more than a billion users worldwide, while TikTok, a video-sharing app popular with Generation Z, has reportedly been downloaded 175 million times in the US and more than 1 billion times globally. Federal judges in the US have questioned the government’s case.

A China trade official who declined to be identified said at the closed-door WTO meeting Friday, October 2, that measures taken by the US are inconsistent with the organization’s rules. The executive orders restrict global trading and violate the basic principles and objectives of the multilateral trading system, the news outlet reported.

The source added the US has failed to provide any evidence for outlawing the apps, and the executive orders are an abuse of WTO rules.

A US trade official defended the orders at the meeting and said the president’s actions are intended to mitigate national security risks, Reuters reported. The government has previously claimed that data from American users is being accessed by the Chinese government.

The US Trade Representative Office declined to comment. An official at the Chinese mission to the WTO did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Late last month, a federal judge granted a temporary injunction which blocked a Trump administration ban on new downloads of TikTok that had been set to go into effect a week ago.

US District Judge Carl Nichols for the District of Columbia granted a temporary injunction, but kept in place another part of the ban that is set to go into effect in November.

“We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban,” TikTok said in a statement, reported PYMNTS.