Biden withdrawing executive orders that sought to ban WeChat, TikTok

WASHINGTON • US President Joe Biden is withdrawing a series of executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of WeChat and TikTok and ordering a new Commerce Department review of security concerns posed by those apps, the White House said yesterday.

The administration of former President Donald Trump had claimed the Chinese-owned apps posed national security risks and had sought to force the sale of TikTok to US investors. It had also attempted to block new users from downloading the apps and ban other technical transactions which TikTok and WeChat said would effectively block the apps' use in the United States.

The courts blocked those orders that never took effect.

Mr Biden's new executive order revokes the WeChat and TikTok orders, along with another in January that targeted eight other communications and financial technology software applications.

A separate US national security review of TikTok remains ongoing, a White House official said.

While Mr Biden had criticised Mr Trump's strategy and promised to work with global allies to confront China on issues including intellectual property theft, he has also indicated that he will take time to review US policy.

The White House's top official for Asia on Tuesday said China has only itself to blame for a global backlash against its policies.

"Over the last year or two, the country that has done the most to create problems for China is not the United States but China," Mr Kurt Campbell, the US coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs on the National Security Council, said at an event hosted by the Centre for a New American Security.

Mr Campbell said the Chinese foreign policy establishment understands that the country's policies, which include militarising artificial islands and outcroppings in the South China Sea and a more assertive approach to global diplomacy, have helped to cause a global backlash against Beijing.

"But is that getting through to the most inner circle in the Chinese leadership? I think that's a question we can't answer," he said.

China hit back at the comments yesterday, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin saying: "In view of the US' hegemonic and bullying practices, China has to make necessary responses to safeguard its own interests."

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2021, with the headline Biden withdrawing executive orders that sought to ban WeChat, TikTok. Subscribe