The Trump administration is urging U.S. companies to remove untrusted Chinese apps from mobile phone downloads and prevent their apps from being featured in Chinese telecom app stores, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoRepublican lawmakers raise security, privacy concerns over Huawei cloud services WashPost fact-checker gives Pompeo four 'Pinocchios' for 'zombie' claim about Obama Iran deal Poll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability MORE said on Wednesday, citing risks to Americans' security.
Speaking with reporters, Pompeo said the push is part of the State Department’s “clean networks” initiative that is warning American companies from doing business with Chinese businesses connected to Beijing.
The announcement follows President TrumpDonald TrumpCheney says a lot of GOP lawmakers have privately encouraged her fight against Trump Republicans criticizing Afghan refugees face risks DeVos says 'principles have been overtaken by personalities' in GOP MORE's threat to ban the wildly popular app TikTok because its parent company, ByteDance, is Chinese-owned and subject to domestic laws that could compel the company to hand over user information to the government in Beijing.
“We want to see untrusted Chinese apps removed from U.S. app stores,” Pompeo said. “President Trump has mentioned impending action on TikTok, and for good reason. With parent companies based in China, apps like Tiktok, WeChat and others are significant threats to personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for [Chinese Communist Party] content censorship.”
Trump has floated banning TikTok unless it is separated from its parent company by September. Meanwhile, Microsoft is in talks to buy the social media app.
TikTok has said that it would never disclose data to the Chinese government and plans to move data storage on American users to the U.S. It is also planning to hire 10,000 workers in the U.S this year.
WeChat is a social media app that is largely popular in China for integrating multiple services, but is mostly used for messaging among the Chinese diaspora.
Pompeo further urged U.S. companies to remove their own apps from download stores run by telecommunications company Huawei. The U.S. has announced sanctions on employees of the company who it says are connected to providing material support for human rights abuses.
The announcement is part of a “Clean Network” campaign by the Trump administration to target China’s presence in the technology field. The U.S. says Chinese telecommunications companies tied to the Chinese Communist Party open up Americans' privacy and data to potential hacking and theft.
The latest action is another shot across the bows of China from the U.S. amid spiraling relations between the two countries, with the Trump administration saying it is taking action against Beijing's predatory and aggressive behavior.
This includes the U.S. imposing sanctions on human rights abuses by China against its Uighur-Muslim minority population in Xinjiang; rejecting China’s claims in the South China Sea and opposing Beijing’s exercise of a National Security Law on Hong Kong.