China’s Commerce Department said a move by the United States to revoke Trump administration executive orders to ban apps like TikTok and WeChat was a “positive step.”

BEIJING – China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday that the United States’ decision to revoke the Trump administration’s executive orders to ban apps like TikTok and WeChat was a “positive step,” against the backdrop of strained relations between two countries.

“We hope the United States will treat Chinese companies fairly and avoid politicizing economic and trade issues,” ministry spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular press conference Thursday.

Gao said the US decision to revoke previous government actions against apps like TikTok and WeChat was a “positive step in the right direction.”

The Chinese Foreign Ministry reiterated in a daily press briefing that China will continue to defend its interests. He urged the United States “to stop generalizing the concept of national security and abusing state power to suppress Chinese technology companies.”

Courts blocked the Trump administration’s efforts last year to ban TikTok and WeChat, but the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) is still conducting a national security review of TikTok.

The Biden administration’s stance reflects fears that users’ personal data could be exposed by popular China-related apps if the ruling Communist Party presses companies to share data.

The administration said in February it was replacing Trump’s approach with a more focused strategy. Whether TikTok and other apps pose a danger to Americans has yet to be discussed.

A senior administration official said on Wednesday that Trump’s actions were not “always implemented in the healthiest way.” The aim of the review is to define clear criteria to assess the specific data security and privacy risks for each application, he said.

This could lead to a range of potential future actions on an application-by-application basis.

“We want to take a tailored and tough approach here,” he said.

CFIUS had set deadlines for TikTok to divest its business in the United States, but such a sale did not take place.

Last week, the Biden administration expanded a list of Chinese companies on a Trump-era blacklist believed to have ties to the Chinese military and surveillance. US companies and individuals cannot invest in these companies, including telecommunications equipment supplier Huawei and Chinese oil company China National Offshore Oil Corp.

Chinese officials and companies have denied that their products and services pose a security threat.

Relations between Beijing and Washington remain strained, with each side having imposed sanctions, including tariffs on the other’s exports.

The Chinese legislature on Thursday passed a law establishing the legal basis for retaliation against foreign sanctions on issues such as Hong Kong and the northwestern region of Xinjiang, where China is accused of restricting freedoms and committing rights violations humans. No specific measure has been provided for in the anti-sanctions law.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the law aims to “resolutely protect national sovereignty, dignity and fundamental interests, and oppose Western hegemonism and power politics.” . with the law. “

Wang slammed Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s calls for more attention to China’s growing military might, accusing Washington of “playing the China card” as a pretext to increase US military spending and seek to “contain” China “.

He also protested Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s reference to Taiwan as a country during a parliamentary debate on Wednesday. China views the island’s self-governing democracy as its own territory and is quick to berate anyone or any business that calls it a country.

Suga briefly referred to Taiwan, New Zealand and Australia when responding to a question about pandemic measures and then referred to them as “three countries.”

Wang said the comment violated Japan’s “solemn promise not to treat Taiwan as a country.”

“We deeply regret Japan’s erroneous remarks and have lodged solemn complaints with Japan, demanding that Japan immediately provide clear clarifications to eliminate the adverse effects caused by the relevant remarks and to ensure that such situations do not recur.” Wang said.

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