10:44 GMT27 January 2021
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    On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump again escalated the US-China trade war by signing an executive order banning the use of eight major Chinese payment apps, including Alipay, the world's largest online payment platform, which is used by over one billion people.

    China's Ministry of Commerce has lashed out at the Trump administration over what it says is an app blacklist which defies fair competition and damages the normal market order.

    In a statement on Wednesday, the ministry said that it "resolutely" opposes the US move, and warned that the decision will hurt consumers, including American consumers. The ministry also promised to "strongly support" its firms to protect their rights, and indicated that it reserves the right to take unspecified "necessary measures" in response to the "unreasonable suppression" of Chinese software.

    The Ministry of Commerce statement echoes earlier remarks by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who slammed the app ban as "bullying" and accused the Trump administration of "stretching the concept of national security."

    The Chinese reaction follows President Trump's signing of a new executive order on Tuesday banning the use of eight popular Chinese apps, including Alipay, Tencent QQ, WeChat Pay, and QQ Wallet.

    The order accuses China's Communist Party of working feverishly to "steal or otherwise obtain United States persons' data," including "sensitive personally identifiable information," to "advance China's economic and national security agenda."

    The executive order is expected to take effect 45 days from Tuesday, weeks after Joe Biden is set to take office. Biden's China policy remains to be seen, with some observers expecting him to take a hard line on Beijing, while others have pointed to China's praise for his recent pick of Antony Blinken for Secretary of State as a "consummate diplomat" with a "wealth of foreign policy experience."

    The app ban is the latest step in a long-running US-China tech and trade war, which has included a ban on ByteDance, the Chinese maker of the popular TikTok app, as well as recent orders to delist Chinese telecom companies from the New York Stock Exchange, and restrictions on the sale of US technology and goods to Chinese tech firms, including Huawei and ZTE.

    The multi-billion-dollar tech and trade spat is part of a larger conflict which includes everything from geopolitics to the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

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