U.S. multinational corporations are pushing the Trump administration to soften the president’s executive order banning Chinese app WeChat, fearing a total ban will hinder their business efforts in China.
Trump ordered the Commerce Department earlier this month to draw up a plan to ban WeChat within 45 days. WeChat is China’s most common messaging app, and allows users to send texts, buy merchandise, and browse the news, all on the same digital platform.
The app is owned by Tencent Holdings, a company with deep connections to the Chinese Communist Party, and China has used data gathered on WeChat to censor political content and keep track of citizens’ movements even outside the country.
Over a dozen major U.S. multinationals, including Apple, Ford, Disney, and Walmart, raised concerns over the prospective ban of WeChat in a Tuesday call with White House officials, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The companies warned that their business inside China would suffer from a total U.S. ban of WeChat.
“For those who don’t live in China, they don’t understand how vast the implications are if American companies aren’t allowed to use it,” Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, told the Journal. “They are going to be held at a severe disadvantage to every competitor.”
The Trump administration “is committed to protecting the American people from all cyber-related threats to critical infrastructure, public health and safety, and our economic and national security,” a White House spokesman said in a comment.
Apple in particular is worried that a ban will hurt its sales of smartphones in China. The company relies on the Chinese market for up to 20 percent of sales, Nikkei Asian Review reported.