The Trump administration’s surprise executive orders that would effectively ban TikTok and WeChat in the U.S. raised a flurry of questions, such as whether the ban would extend to video games owned by WeChat’s parent Tencent. Equally unclear: whether a related government effort could thwart lucrative cloud services deals, such as the one we recently reported between TikTok and Google.
The White House has made few details of the executive orders known, beyond a deadline: 45 days from now, or mid September. TikTok and owner ByteDance have tried to accommodate Trump’s demands so far, agreeing to discuss a sale to Microsoft. But ByteDance CEO Zhang Yiming also faces criticism in China for bowing too easily to U.S. pressure. TikTok has signaled it could start fighting in court.
Regardless, Trump may have already accomplished his goal of undermining Chinese tech companies, said Daniel Castro of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, D.C. think tank backed by tech companies. It has created so much uncertainty about ByteDance and Tencent that U.S. companies will need to reassess plans to continue doing business with them. — Christopher Stern