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Trump Administration Announces Restrictions on TikTok and WeChat

Robert Daly image

Statement from Robert Daly, Director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the US.

There is cause for concern about WeChat. Never before has the primary information source and communications medium of a vital group of American citizens—Chinese-born Americans and up to 19 million daily users with connections to China—been mined, monitored, and censored by a rival power on U.S. soil. Government studies, hearings, and a national debate on balancing cybersecurity and First Amendment freedoms are in order. 

 

Instead, the administration is threatening to ban WeChat under the Emergency Powers Act. It was passed in 1976 to address emergencies, which are rare, not reasonable suspicions, which are constant. The Act is becoming a bludgeon similar to the Chinese Communist Party’s Picking Troubles and Provoking Trouble statute, which Beijing invokes to silence China’s critics  without due process. 

 

The threat from WeChat is creeping and corrosive, not imminent. Perhaps it should be banned in the United States, but only after a thorough, open, evidence-based investigation.  Such a ban would be convincing to Americans who’ve come to rely on WeChat and would be viewed as credible, rather than capricious, by allies who share Washington’s concern about the impact of China’s uber-app on their own people.

About the Author

Robert Daly image

Robert Daly

Director, Kissinger Institute on China and the United States

Robert Daly, the Director of the Wilson Center’s Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, has compiled an unusually diverse portfolio of high-level work: He has served as a U.S. diplomat in Beijing; as an interpreter for Chinese and U.S. leaders, including President Carter and Secretary of State Kissinger; as head of China programs at Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, and the University of Maryland; and as a producer of Chinese-language versions of Sesame Street. Recognized East and West as a leading authority on Sino-U.S. relations, he has testified before Congress, lectured widely in both countries, and regularly offers analysis for top media outlets.

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The mission of Kissinger Institute on China and the United States is to ensure that informed engagement remains the cornerstone of U.S.-China relations.  Read more