The Trump administration is reportedly considering restricting Chinese giants Ant Group and Tencent in the US over national security concerns

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Senior officials in the Trump administration are considering restricting the business operations of Chinese firms Ant Group and Tencent in the US over national security concerns, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

Ant Group is a digital payment platform founded by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. Tencent is a Chinese mega-conglomerate and most notably owns WeChat, the popular app that the administration has been attempting to ban alongside TikTok. US leaders are worried that the companies’ presence in the US market could lead to the Chinese government accessing user banking data from hundreds of millions of Americans, according to Bloomberg.

A spokesperson for Ant Group told Bloomberg that the firm wasn’t aware of the restrictions and is focused on the China market, where its primary business lies.

Representatives for the White House, Ant Group, and Tencent did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. 

The report is the latest in a string of attempts by the Trump administration to take aim at Chinese firms. Popular video app TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, along with the popular Tencent-owned social app WeChat, remain the focus of the president’s call to ban apps and services from Chinese companies.

Ant Group has become a powerhouse in the digital payments arena — the firm operates globally, including in the US, but China is its primary market, with 1 billion users in the country. The firm is gearing up — reportedly this month — for a monster initial public offering via a dual listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong (it opted to skip over the New York Stock Exchange.) The IPO could catapult the fintech giant past the world’s most established financial institutions, like Goldman Sachs.

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While Tencent may not be a known name in the US, it is one of the world’s most valuable companies. The China-based conglomerate has stakes in a slew of companies spanning various industries, from social media apps to gaming to blockbuster movies, including a sizable stake in Epic Games, the firm behind the popular “Fortnite” game.

Federal judges in late September temporarily blocked Trump’s attempts to ban both TikTok and WeChat, but their futures in the US remain uncertain. A hearing is slated for Nov. 4 for a US judge to decide whether or not to allow the administration to ban transactions with TikTok. 

The Trump administration also added Chinese telecom giant Huawei to a trade backlist in mid-2019 over national security concerns and banned US firms from selling to the company in May. In August, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced a “Clean Network” initiative to crack down on Chinese apps and services.

SEE ALSO: Jack Ma’s $200 billion Chinese fintech firm Ant Group could reportedly go public in October in a monster IPO. Here’s how the company went from an ant-sized startup to PayPal rival.

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Source:: Businessinsider – Politics


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