Officials in the Trump administration are considering imposing further restrictions on major Chinese companies, notably the digital payment platforms of Ant Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd., according to a report by Bloomberg. These firms would join a growing list of Chinese technology entities that have faced economic pressure, sanctions, and bans in the United States including Huawei, ByteDance’s TikTok, and Tencent’s WeChat.
Although TikTok has secured a deal for the U.S. operations to be purchased by Oracle and Walmart and a U.S. federal court temporarily halted the U.S. WeChat ban, the floating of new potential measures suggests that the economic tension between Washington and Beijing is unlikely to abate any time soon. While diplomats and observers alike await the results of the United States’ 2020 presidential election, questions surrounding the nexus between economic openness and national security will continue no matter who occupies the top leadership position. Still, the current signal being sent from Washington is that national security concerns outweigh the financial gain from having Chinese tech companies operating on U.S. shores.
The reported motivation to target Ant Group’s and Tencent’s digital payment platforms echoes the rationale of the executive orders used against WeChat, a multi-feature messaging app, and TikTok, a video sharing app. The administration cites concern over the data privacy of the users of Chinese-developed and owned digital applications and services. For example, the president’s order on “addressing the threat posed by WeChat” stated that these applications