Beijing, Sep 19 (efe-epa).- China will take action against any foreign companies or individuals that “endanger” its sovereignty and security, the Ministry of Commerce said Saturday, amid an escalating row with the United States over video sharing app TikTok and messaging service WeChat, both developed by China.
Beijing issued new guidelines for its list of “Unreliable Entities” that could have sanctions imposed, one day after US President Donald Trump’s administration announced bans of downloads of TikTok and WeChat.
In a statement, Commerce minister Zhong Shan said that the list of “unreliable entities” would include companies and individuals Beijing accuses of “endangering national sovereignty, security or development interests of China” and of “suspending normal transactions” or “applying discriminatory measures” with Chinese companies or individuals.
The language of the Chinese ministry of commerce statement mirrors much of that employed by their US counterparts in their statements one day prior.
On Friday, the US said that all downloads of the popular apps would be banned, with a full ban on TikTok’s use coming into force in November, in line with the 90-day deadline President Donald Trump set for its parent company, ByteDance, to sell the platform.
Department of Commerce Secretary Wlibur Ross said: “Today’s actions prove once again that President Trump will do everything in his power to guarantee our national security and protect Americans from the threats of the Chinese Communist Party.
“At the President’s direction, we have taken significant action to combat China’s malicious collection of American citizens’ personal data, while promoting our national values, democratic rules-based norms, and aggressive enforcement of US laws and regulations.”
TikTok has between 80-100 million users in the US, whereas WeChat, owned by Tencent, has around 20 million users.
The US government believes that user data stored by TikTok, such as location and personal information, could be accessed by the Chinese government, something the apps and the Chinese government deny.
In May, Chinese state media hinted at the “unreliable entities” list, which was first announced by Beijing in May 2019, includes major US firms such as Apple, Cisco Systems, Qualcomm and Boeing.
According to Beijing’s statement, companies included on the list could face operational restrictions or even a complete ban on trading with China, as well as being barred from investing in the country.
Beijing said that it “opposes unilateralism and protectionism (…), safeguards the multilateral trading system, and promotes an open world economy” and would adopt “necessary measures” to defend its companies.
The latest announcements come amid escalating tensions between the two superpowers and are the latest turn in a trade dispute that has been brewing since 2018 that saw both countries slap reciprocal tariffs on a range of goods. EFE-EPA