United States President Donald Trump has signed an executive order, which may ban any transaction involving Chinese tech giant Tencent including Epic Games and Fortnite.
TikTok is a video sharing app that debuted in 2016; and quickly grew to prominence as people uploaded short comedy skits, dance routines, and singing. By July 2020, it had an estimated 800 million active monthly users, making it the seventh most popular social network.
However, many took issues with the app’s owner ByteDance- a Chinese company. As previously reported, accusations of censorship on topics the Chinese government did not approve of and privacy concerns came to a head.
President Trump stated to journalists As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.” Later, Microsoft confirmed they were “committed to acquiring TikTok” with US government oversight.
Now, President Trump has signed an executive order banning any US transactions with TikTok owners ByteDance, and WeChat owners Tencent, starting in 45 days (of August 6th).
The executive order by President Trump accusing WeChat, much like the allegations against TikTok, of censoring material the Chinese government does not approve of, and giving private data of US citizens to them.
As of May, 2020; Tencent has 100% ownership of Riot Games, 80% of Grinding Gear Games, 40% in Epic Games, 29% in Funcom, 5% in Activision Blizzard, 5% in Ubisoft, 5% in Paradox Interactive, the largest shareholder of Marvelous, a “major investment” in PlatinumGames, and others.
Could this mean that President Trump has effectively banned any US business or consumer doing business with Tencent, its subsidiaries, the Epic Games Store, Fortnite, and more? This segment of the “Text of a Letter to the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate” reads as follows.
“To deal with this threat, the order prohibits, beginning 45 days after the date of the order, to the extent permitted under applicable law, 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 Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order. The Secretary will identify the transactions subject to this prohibition 45 days after the date of the order.”
The executive order prohibits “any transaction” with three entities. Those related to WeChat, “with respect to any property […] with Tencent Holdings Ltd,” and any subsidiary of Tencent “as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary).”
As the interest of the executive order is based on communication apps owned by Tencent, this may therefore only affect games that have a social media aspect. On the other hand, if the executive order’s goals are also to cut off money from Tencent, this may also apply to video games.
We will keep you informed as we learn more.
UPDATE: The LA Times reports “A White House official on Thursday night clarified that the executive order concerning WeChat only blocks transactions related to WeChat, not those involving other Tencent holdings.”
LA Times reporter Sam Dean has tweeted how the confusion came about.
“Video game companies owned by Tencent will NOT be affected by this executive order!
White House official confirmed to the LA Times that the EO only blocks transactions related to WeChat
So Riot Games (League of Legends), Epic Games (Fortnite), et al are safe
This was pretty much impossible to tell from the EO itself—I also had a [shocked face emoji] moment that they were roping in Riot et al when I first read it—but ‘we just mean WeChat’ is the WH line for tonight.
But banning all transactions on/with WeChat alone is still WILD.”