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Trump speaking at a rally in Dalton, Georgia, on Jan. 4. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that prohibits transactions with eight Chinese software applications, claiming they pose a national security threat given their ability to access private information about their users.

Why it matters: The order comes two weeks before Trump leaves office, and it remains unclear whether President-elect Biden will continue enforcing Trump’s bans on Chinese companies.

The order bars any transactions with “persons that develop or control” the apps of Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, Tencent QQ, VMate, WeChat Pay, WPS Office and its subsidiaries after a 45-day period.

  • Payment platform Alipay is owned by Jack Ma's Ant Group, and WeChat Pay is owned by Tencent.
  • The order also requires Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to consider bans on other apps that are deemed national security threats, and calls for the commerce secretary, attorney general and director of national intelligence to release recommendations to prevent the transfer of data from U.S. users to foreign adversaries.

The big picture: Tuesday's order is a continuation of the Trump administration's campaign against Chinese companies.

  • Last year Trump issued orders banning two other popular Chinese-owned social media services, TikTok and WeChat, claiming they could be used for Chinese espionage and pose a national security risk to the American people.
  • He signed another in November prohibiting American companies and individuals from owning shares of companies previously listed as enabling the People's Liberation Army.
  • The New York Stock Exchange moved to delist three Chinese companies to comply with that order before reverting that decision on Monday.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Ina Fried: The apps, essential for many transactions within China, are also key for those with relatives or business there.

What they're saying: "The Chinese government requires that all commercial companies, big and small, support the Chinese Communist Party’s political objectives as Chinese regulators have recently demonstrated," national security adviser Robert O’Brien said in a statement Tuesday regarding the order.

  • "China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy explicitly aims to co-opt or coerce civilian enterprises into assisting the People’s Liberation Army."

Go deeper

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Facebook fights for its image

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Facebook is ditching apologies and taking a more combative stance against its critics as it faces a new barrage of negative coverage and leaked internal reports.

Driving the news: As part of the new posture, Facebook started testing placing positive messages about itself in users' News Feeds last month, according to a New York Times story Tuesday.

25 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Charter schools boomed during the pandemic

Expand chart
Data: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools; Map: Sara Wise/Axios

Charter schools picked off hundreds of thousands of public school students across the U.S. during the pandemic, according to a new analysis from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Why it matters: The pandemic has weakened America's public education system, as Zoom classes, teacher fatigue and student disengagement take their toll. And that hobbled system is shedding students to charter schools, private schools and homeschooling.