On August 6, 2020, President Trump issued a pair of executive orders targeting China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. (Tencent) and its mobile application WeChat and ByteDance Ltd. (ByteDance) and its mobile application TikTok. The orders instructed the U.S. Commerce Department to prohibit the following within 45 days from their issuance (by September 20, 2020), to the extent permitted by law:
- Any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with ByteDance, or its subsidiaries, in which any such company has any interest; and
- 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, or any subsidiary of that entity.
Both executive orders direct the Secretary of Commerce to identify transactions that will be prohibited, leaving substantial discretion in implementation.