Biden drops plan to ban Chinese-owned apps TikTok, WeChat

President Joe Biden has revoked executive orders from his predecessor Donald Trump seeking to ban Chinese-owned apps TikTok and WeChat from US markets on national security concerns, a move receiving a cautious welcome from Beijing, AFP reports. 

Trump had claimed the apps posed national security risks and sought to force a sale to US investors of TikTok, which is owned by China-based ByteDance and remains one of the world's most popular social media apps.

A statement Wednesday said that instead of banning WeChat and TikTok, the Biden administration would carry out a "criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis to address the risks" from internet applications controlled by foreign entities.

WeChat, part of Chinese tech giant Tencent, is a "super app" which includes social networking, messaging, e-commerce and more.

Biden issued a new executive order calling for a four-month review of "the continuing effort of foreign adversaries to steal or otherwise obtain United States persons' data."

Trump's claims had prompted a series of legal challenges which delayed the efforts to ban or force the sale of the applications -- further heightening tensions between Washington and Beijing.

The two companies did not respond to a request for comment.

University of Texas law professor Bobby Chesney called the Biden order "a good middle path."

"They affirmed the nature of the threat and the propriety of using sanctions to address it, and they have held the door open for reimposing some version of these sanctions... but likely with a far stronger and more defensible record," Chesney tweeted.

China's commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng on Thursday called Biden's decision a "positive step in the right direction."

Gao said he hoped Washington would "treat Chinese companies in a fair and just manner, and avoid politicizing economic and trade issues."


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