World

US wants to ban Chinese apps from US app stores

WASHINGTON The US is expanding its China-targeted Clean Network programme to include Chinese-made mobile phone apps and cloud computing services that it claims are security risks.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday that the US wants to ban untrusted Chinese apps from the app stores of US mobile carriers and phonemakers.

"With parent companies based in China, apps like TikTok, WeChat, and others are significant threats to the personal data of American citizens, not to mention tools for CCP content censorship," he said, referring to the Chinese Communist Party.

But he added that the US also wants to block American-made apps from being pre-installed, or made available for download, on Chinese-made phones and wireless equipment from global giant Huawei and other makers.

"We don't want companies to be complicit in Huawei's human rights abuses or the CCP's surveillance apparatus," the top US diplomat said.

He also said the US government will seek to limit the ability of Chinese service providers to collect, store and process sensitive data in the US. He cited specifically Chinese tech giants Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.

His announcement came two days after President Donald Trump told Chinese tech company ByteDance to sell its hugely popular TikTok app to an American company or see it shut down by mid-September.

Washington said TikTok gleans massive amounts of personal data from hundreds of millions of users, which could be passed on to Chinese intelligence.

The targeting of app usage and cloud services expands the 5G Clean Path programme the State Department unveiled on April 29.

At its core, the programme is a multi-country initiative to prevent Huawei and other Chinese telecom suppliers from dominating next-generation or 5G wireles services.

China yesterday said it was firmly opposed to the US action and added that the move went against market principles and had no factual basis.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters at a daily briefing that China urged the US to correct its mistake.

In an interview with state news agency Xinhua on Wednesday, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi called the US move "a textbook case of bullying". - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD