Outgoing US President Donald Trump targeting China is nothing new, but on Tuesday the US Esports industry had to brace itself for some fallout after Trump signed a new Executive Order, which specifically targeted a number of Chinese owned apps, including a couple owned by Tencent Holdings.
The Order, signed on the 5th January, cites title 3 of the United States Code, the National Emergencies Act, and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act as the reasons why the apps, which generally make up a number of mobile online payment operators, have been targeted.
Alongside Tencent QQ, other apps named in the EO are WeChat Pay, Alipay, CamScanner, QQ Wallet, SHAREit, VMate, and WPS Office.
What does the EO Mean?
In signing the EO, President Trump has brought into law
“any transaction by any person or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with persons that develop or control the following Chinese connected software applications, or with their subsidiaries, as those transactions and persons and identified by the Secretary of Commerce.”
The new ruling comes into effect 45 days following the date the order was signed. Which means that Trump will have been removed from office and replaced with the incoming President Joe Biden before the EO can be enacted.
The EO claimed that through the apps, China had been attempting ‘bulk data collection’ and that in doing this to further its economic and national security agenda, that this had put American users of the apps at risk.
Furthermore, there is confusion as to why President Trump has signed the EO in the first place with Mr. Biden due to be sworn in as President on the 20th January and unlikely to support this and a number of previously issued executive orders.
Why is this an issue for US Esports?
The fact that Tencent QQ apps were included in this last EO will have caused concern in the US Esports industry. The Chinese company is one of the biggest names across the broad spectrum of esports gaming.
It is the owner of Riot Games, who owns League of Legends, as well as the title VALORANT. It also holds a significant stake in Epic Games, who have made Fortnite and who also own Rocket League developers Psyonix.
In addition, Tencent QQ also has minor investments in other esports related companies such as Krafton Inc (who own PUBG), Activision Blizzard (who own both the Call of Duty and Overwatch Leagues), and also in Ubisoft, the developer of Rainbow Six Siege.
Of course, any ban on Tencent QQ’s operations could have a knock-on effect across the vast diaspora of U.S. esports and that is cause for real concern for some. Especially when seeing what effect a similar ban by the Indian Government had on esports gaming in that country.
Although it should be noted that given current circumstances, this executive order may not have such a drastic effect in the United States.
Trump’s Other Attempted Bans
There are a number of reasons why American esports experts are not unduly concerned by the EO at this stage, with Trump set to be removed as president on the 20th January at the latest, the incoming president is not expected to allow these orders to pass.
Furthermore, when Trump has tried to ban other Chinese apps in the past, such as TikTok and WeChat, both companies were granted preliminary injunctions by the Federal Courts in the US against the ban.
In truth, with the incumbent President likely to be gone well before this EO can be put into place, the chances are that the EO will be pulled and companies will not have to seek an injunction against the EO in court anyway.