US President Donald Trump today stepped up his campaign against Chinese businesses, banning transactions with eight apps including Alipay.
The new executive order is aimed at curbing the alleged threat to Americans posed by Chinese software companies that have access to personal data.
The order states that the US must take “aggressive action” against Chinese tech firms to protect national security.
“By accessing personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, Chinese connected software applications can access and capture vast swaths of information from users, including sensitive personally identifiable information and private information,” it states.
It alleges that this data would allow Chinese companies to “track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information”.
In addition to Alipay, which is owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Group, the new measures also target Wechat Pay and QQ Wallet, which is owned by Tencent.
Camscanner, Shareit, Tencent QQ, Alibaba’s VMate and WPS Office are also named.
The order comes into force in 45 days — after Trump has left office. It is not clear whether Joe Biden will seek to overturn it after he is inaugurated as president.
A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry told reporters that the US was abusing its power and unreasonable suppressing foreign companies.
The move comes as Trump looks to double down on his campaign against Beijing during his final days in power.
The executive order echoes similar measures taken against messaging app Wechat and video-sharing platform Tiktok. However, these restrictions are yet to come into force, as they have been blocked by courts.
The Trump administration has taken action against a host of other companies with links to Beijing, not least controversial tech giant Huawei.
The order will also come as a further blow to Ma, the embattled billionaire behind Alibaba.
The $34bn float of his Ant Group subsidiary, which controls Alipay, was blocked in November after Ma criticised Chinese authorities. He has not been seen in public since.