by Oleg Burunov
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump announced numerous bans on business dealings with the Chinese social media platforms TikTok and WeChat via executive orders set to take effect on 15 September, citing national security risks.
Beijing has warned that Chinese consumers may boycott Apple if the US delivers on its pledge to ban the country’s media platform WeChat which currently has more than 1.2 billion active users.
Spokesman Zhao Lijan tweeted on Thursday that “if WeChat is banned, then there will be no reason why Chinese shall keep iPhone and Apple products”.
He shared on his Twitter a video from his press conference in Beijing, where Zhao, in particular, accused the Trump administration of “piracy” over a ban on the Chinese chat app that was ordered by POTUS earlier this month.
During the news conference, the spokesman also referred to a survey, conducted by the Chinese social media platform Weibo, which indicated that about 95 percent of respondents were ready to give up the use of their iPhones if WeChat was blacklisted by the US.
Zhao slammed the White House’s crackdown on non-US companies under the pretext of “national security”, describing American pressure on WeChat as sort of “economic bullying”, driven by ideological considerations.
The remarks came a few days after the spokesman signaled Beijing’s support for the Chinese social media platform TikTok suing US President Donald Trump over his restrictive executive order.
“China continues to support relevant companies to take up legal weapons to defend their rightful interests and will continue to take all necessary measures to defend the legal rights of Chinese companies”, Zhao told reporters on Monday.
Earlier in August, Trump threatened to ban WeChat along with TikTok by 15 September if they were not sold to a US company, citing national security risks.
The threat was made amid increasing tensions between the two countries as the US blames China for unfair trade practices, a poor response to the coronavirus outbreak, human rights violations, and unwarranted territorial disputes with neighbouring countries, accusations that Beijing vehemently denies.