Trump orders ban on Chinese apps' transactions

With less than a month left in office, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday banning transactions with eight Chinese apps.

It targets apps widely used in China - though not as popular in the United States - such as WeChat Pay and Alipay.

It's a move sure to ratchet up already high U.S.-China tensions.

A senior official told Reuters it's meant to head off the threat posed by Chinese apps, which have large user bases and access to sensitive data.

The order claims data collection by Chinese apps would quote "permit China to track the locations of federal employees and contractors, and build dossiers of personal information."

A U.S. official says the order gives the Commerce Department 45 days to define which transactions will be banned, but that the Department plans to act before Trump leaves office on January 20.

But any new transactions prohibited by the Trump administration are likely to face court challenges similar to when it sought to block transactions with WeChat and TikTok under an earlier order signed in August.

That order would have effectively banned the apps' use in the United States and barred Google and Apple's app stores from offering them.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.