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Beijing vows to restrict ‘unreliable foreign entities’ after US moves to ban TikTok & WeChat apps

The Chinese Commerce Ministry unveiled the “unreliable foreign entity list” earlier on Saturday, with the official purpose of safeguarding national security interests, as well as maintaining “fair and free international economic and trade order.”

It appears to be a response to the US Department of Commerce, which recently added Huawei to the country’s ‘Entity List’, restricting the Chinese tech giant’s access to items produced domestically and abroad using US technology and software.

The announcement by the ministry did not single out specific foreign entities, but widely elaborated on factors that could enable the government to trigger restrictive measures.

These could be imposed if such entities endanger “national sovereignty, security or development interests of China,” apply discriminatory measures “against an enterprise, other organization, or individual of China,” or cause serious damage to the rights and interests of Chinese companies or individuals.

Sanctions may come in the form of fines, as well as restriction of operations and investment in China. Beijing will also be able to refuse entry to foreign personnel or equipment into the country.

The timing of the new punitive measures is particularly noteworthy as they come a day after Washington ordered a ban on the downloading of popular Chinese-owned video-sharing service TikTok, and effectively blocked the use of Chinese messaging app WeChat.

The latter will be shut down in the US on Sunday, whereas people will be able to use TikTok until November 12, when it could also be completely banned.US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross claimed the Chinese-owned apps “collect vast swaths of data from users” and are funneling them to China’s intelligence services.

Washington will not make American users delete the apps from their devices, but will prevent them from installing updates instead. US authorities would also mandate that Apple, Google, and other software providers make TikTok and WeChat unavailable on their platforms inside the US.

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