On Monday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., urged President Donald Trump to add QQ — a social media and messaging mobile application owned by the same Chinese company as WeChat, Tencent Holdings Ltd — to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat. Rubio wrote Trump on the matter.
In August, Rubio announced in an op-ed that he would “introduce legislation to create a framework of standards that must be met before a high-risk, foreign-based app is allowed to operate on American telecommunications networks and devices.” Additionally, Rubio welcomed two Executive Orders by Trump to address the national security threat posed by TikTok and WeChat. Last October, Rubio was among the first lawmakers to warn of the danger posed by TikTok when he requested that U.S. Treasury Sec. Steven Mnuchin have the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) launch a full review of the national security implications of TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly. This review by CFIUS remains ongoing.
The full text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. President:
This administration has correctly identified the hazards posed by high-risk Chinese telecommunications hardware and software to America’s national and economic security and taken bold actions to counter these threats. One such set of measures was the pair of Executive orders issued on August 6, 2020, related to mobile applications TikTok and WeChat. To build upon these necessary steps, I write to request the addition of the Chinese mobile application, QQ, to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.
QQ is a social media and messaging mobile application owned by the same Chinese company as WeChat, Tencent Holdings Ltd (Tencent). As the Executive order’s 45-day deadline approaches, there has been a significant increase in downloads of QQ in the United States. This past May, researchers from the Citizen’s Lab at the University of Toronto issued a report finding that Tencent surveilled and censored private messaging on its applications. The links between the Chinese government and Communist Party to this high-risk software could not be more pronounced as Tencent’s chief executive, Pony Ma, is a member of China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress.
The identical ownership and similar functions of the two applications highlight the common threats that they pose, including data privacy risks, as well as espionage and censorship at the direction of the Chinese government and Communist Party. I therefore urge you to add QQ to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.
Thank you for taking this important matter into consideration.