President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order that will prohibit TikTok and WeChat from operating in the U.S., with the apps’ parent companies reportedly given 90 days to sell. However, a number of significant players in the industry—including Apple and Disney—have reportedly voiced concerns over the economic consequences of the ban.
In fact, a recent Bloomberg report showed that the huge majority of iPhone users in China would prefer to switch away from their iPhones, rather than miss out on WeChat. 95 percent of 1.2 million respondents is a huge, huge number—and it certainly makes a lot of sense, with WeChat’s popularity in the region.
When Bloomberg reporter put forward these concerns regarding the ban on WeChat to President Trump at a recent press conference, the president was unfazed, replying: “Whatever.” The president brushed away the question, arguing that the executive order is for the “security of our country”, blaming China for letting them down.
For some context, this is an excerpt from the executive order:
There is credible evidence that leads me to believe that ByteDance Ltd., an exempted company with limited liability incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands (“ByteDance”), through acquiring all interests in musical.ly, an exempted company with limited liability incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands (“Musical.ly”), might take action that threatens to impair the national security
of the United States.
Initially, ByteDance and Tencent were given 45 days to sell TikTok and WeChat to continue operations in the U.S., although the deadline has now reportedly been extended to the 12th of November 2020. At the moment, Microsoft and Twitter have been rumoured to be in talks with ByteDance to acquire TikTok, although nothing concrete has been confirmed just yet.
Concerns over the ban could extend to non-Americans, too. The order covers dealings between U.S. companies and TikTok/WeChat, which means that users in international markets might not have access to the two popular apps. In addition to the huge China market, this could lead to huge losses for American companies worldwide—including Google and Apple.
TikTok’s meteoric rise in recent years, meanwhile, needs little introduction. In fact, browsing through the app, the number of users calling for the future ban to be cancelled seemingly shows that public opinion is against the order. However, if history is any indication (read: Huawei), the U.S. government looks set to push through the executive order.