US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined the steps he wants US companies to take to manage “untrustworthy Chinese apps.”
The measures go far beyond President Donald Trump’s current push to force the sale of TikTok to an American company.
Mr. Pompeo says apps like TikTok and WeChat pose “significant threats to the personal data of US citizens.”
Wednesday’s announcement marks a further deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing.
The US government claims that such apps collect data from US citizens and could be exploited by the Chinese Communist Party, which Beijing has denied.
One of the significant steps involves removing “untrusted” Chinese apps from US app stores, along with cracking down on cloud computing providers.
Along with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, TikTok has been firmly in US President Donald Trump’s sights as two companies he wants to crack down on.
The scope of such measures has now been extended much wider and includes Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent, which are present in the United States.
Mr. Pompeo, who is America’s oldest diplomat, has defined a five-pronged approach to “safeguarding American assets” which include:
Ensure that “unreliable carriers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC)” are not connected to US telecommunications networks
· Removal of “untrusted” applications from US app stores
Prevent “untrusted” Chinese smartphone makers from pre-installing or making the most popular US apps available for download
Prevent storage and access to sensitive personal information of US citizens and corporate intellectual property on Chinese cloud-based services
Ensuring that undersea cables connecting the US to the global internet are not compromised for China’s intelligence gathering
- Grabbing Microsoft’s TikTok: Inspired or Naive?
- Trump asks the United States to cut the deal with Microsoft TikTok
Mr. Trump has pledged to ban TikTok in America by September 15 unless his US business is sold to an American company. Microsoft is currently in talks to buy it.
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, said its US users’ data is stored outside of China and is safe.
US officials have long complained that the theft of Chinese intellectual property has cost the economy billions of dollars in revenue and thousands of jobs, which Beijing has consistently denied.
Last month, Mr. Pompeo claimed that the United States was trying to ban TikTok and other Chinese social media apps for national security concerns, calling them “Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence.”