Trump issues executive orders targeting Tencent's WeChat and TikTok apps

(Image credit: Tencent)

Update: It has been confirmed that the executive order against WeChat will not affect other Tencent-owned properties, in particular its videogame concerns.

Original story: US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order banning any transactions related to WeChat, a popular messaging service which is owned by Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings. Announced in tandem with a similar order targeting social media service TikTok, the new restrictions will take effect in 45 days.

While the order specifically targets WeChat, there was enough ambiguity in its wording to raise concern that it could affect other Tencent Holdings Ltd properties. After all, Tencent owns Riot Games (League of Legends, Valorant), 40 percent of Epic Games (Fortnite, Unreal Engine) and 5 percent of Activision Blizzard, among many others. But LA Times reporter Sam Dean has received confirmation from the White House that video game companies will not be affected:

The most sweeping part of the WeChat order reads: "The following actions shall be prohibited beginning 45 days after the date of this order, to the extent permitted under applicable law: any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd."

This can be read to mean that only WeChat-related transactions are affected, although some initially feared that all transactions with Tencent were prohibited by the order. Needless to say, if a ban were imposed on all Tencent properties, the results could be disastrous for a large portion of the games industry.

The order claims that TikTok and WeChat funnel the personal data of Americans and Chinese citizens in the United States to the Chinese Communist Party. As a direct consequence of Trump's interventions, TikTok's future in the United States seems destined to be taken over by Microsoft

WeChat has no known US suitors waiting in the wings. In 2018 the app was reported to have over a billion monthly active users. In June, India banned use of the app. 

US companies are currently banned from doing business with Chinese information tech company Huawei.

Shaun Prescott

Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.