Donald Trump’s executive orders banning dealings with TikTok and WeChat are heavy on the bravado but light on details.
Signed by the US president yesterday as he declared Bytedance and Tencent, the Chinese parent companies of the two apps respectively, to be threats to America’s national security, the orders are the culmination of weeks of threats aimed primarily at viral video app TikTok (✦ Quartz membership exclusive). But the threats appeared to widen in scope considerably this week as secretary of state Mike Pompeo hinted at strong action against “countless” Chinese apps in coming days, and as the US expanded its so-called “Clean Network” campaign aimed at rooting out major Chinese tech products from the US system.
The twin executive orders are worded vaguely, banning unspecified “transactions” with the two Chinese companies. The government has 45 days to provide definitions of what amounts to a transaction, before the orders take effect on Sep. 21—six days from Sep. 15, the deadline that Trump had set for TikTok to find a US buyer. But the sweeping wording of the orders have already raised immediate concerns of huge ripple effects posing significant disruptions to US businesses and communications with people in China.
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