The lengths to which United States President Donald Trump is willing to go to exclude Chinese technology from global markets seemingly knows no bounds. His administration has already slapped Huawei and other leading hi-tech firms with bans and encouraged overseas allies to follow suit. With success apparently perceived as having been achieved, it has moved on to cyberspace, telling firms they have 45 days to sever links with the popular apps TikTok and WeChat. The misguided belief is that Beijing controls all and the nation’s firms and their products are therefore a national security threat; the reality is that the allegation has never been proven and that as with so much of policy towards China, it would seem more about isolating, containing and destroying. Neither app would seem a threat; TikTok is for sharing short-form videos and is awash with images of people lip-synching to songs or doing everyday activities, while WeChat is a rival to the messaging system WhatsApp. Trump officials allege that all Chinese technology firms are required by Beijing to share data and are passing on personal information of users for spying. The parent companies, Tiktok’s ByteDance and WeChat’s Tencent, have, like Huawei and other companies targeted, denied that is the case. But assurances that data is stored outside China and that the overseas versions of the apps are separate from mainland counterparts have been brushed aside by Washington, which is ever-widening its campaign to prevent China’s rise. The lack of evidence for the claims raises questions about the real intent of such sanctions. For TikTok, which last year was the world’s most downloaded app, Trump’s actions would seem to provide answers; he set ByteDance a September 15 deadline to find an American buyer for its US arm or risk being banned. Microsoft is now in talks for the purchase in what is seen as a worrying sign for the global expansion plans of Chinese tech firms. TikTok, WeChat targeted for US ban with Trump’s latest executive orders To some people, particularly Chinese, it is being perceived as a “smash and grab” of valuable assets. Furthering that perception, the administration on Thursday also recommended that Chinese companies listed on US stock exchanges be delisted unless they gave regulators access to their audited accounts. China also has strict data localisation rules, but does not force asset sales. Nor does it intentionally try to destroy the business of foreign rivals by banning them on dubious grounds. Trump’s actions are still aimed at restricting Chinese trade and business, although are now broadly even more damaging through fracturing the global internet by walling off parts and preventing cooperation and innovation. While he claims to be protecting American interests, he is also harming them by freezing out China and the development possibilities it offers.