Alongside the already infamous executive order which set out to ban TikTok last Thursday, President Trump issued a second executive order against WeChat, China’s most prominent internet messaging service which is owned by Tencent. The ban prohibits any transactions with either of the companies after 20th September.
Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that “more than a dozen” American companies have pushed back on the forthcoming ban. All of these companies, which include Apple, Disney, Ford, Walmart and Intel, hopped on a call with the White House to discuss the potential detrimental effects of a WeChat ban on their business.
According to The Verge, there’s “a lot of confusion” regarding the ban and its reach due to its broad language, which is subject to the Commerce Department. This is reportedly part of the reason for the call.
Due to its ubiquitous presence in China, a complete ban would massively impact these companies in their ability to market and sell products in the country. Particularly, Apple, who would find it extremely difficult to sell a smartphone that has no access to WeChat to Chinese consumers. In fact, The Verge states, “An App Store without WeChat would be even more of a problem for the iPhone in China than the lack of Google services is for Huawei elsewhere”.
It will also affect brands that are more indirectly linked to the app due to the reach that WeChat allows them in their marketing campaigns and not being able to process transactions through the app would significantly interrupt their operations in China.
It’s still unclear what’s going to come of Trump’s War on Chinese Tech, but these companies (and the rest of us) are sitting tight for an updated, narrower executive order which will hopefully put a stop to any and all of these potential issues.