US president Donald Trump has suggested the United States may ban Chinese tech giant Alibaba.
At a weekend press event, Trump was asked if he intended to extend bans on Chinese tech companies beyond the recently-announced measures against Tencent’s WeChat and ByteDance’s TikTok.
His response was to recount his administration’s months-old ban on Huawei until, prodded by a reporter who mentioned Alibaba and Alibaba only, he said: “Well, yeah. We’re looking at other things, yes we are”.
Which was enough for many to assume that action against Alibaba is possible, a not-entirely-outlandish notion given that US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has mentioned Alibaba as a company of concern in his Clean Network plan. Baidu and Tencent were also named as clouds to be avoided in that plan.
The Register has sought comment from Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu on that plan. Baidu said it had no comment, while Alibaba and Tencent have not replied to our queries.
Tencent has told investors that it asked the US administration for more detail on the implications of the Clean Network plan.
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Baidu has other worries at present, as its NASDAQ-listed video-streaming company iQIYI, often referred to as China’s Netflix analog, last week revealed it is under investigation by the United States’ Security and Exchange Commission over alleged fraudulent misstatements of revenue. To complicate matters further, Tencent is in talks to acquire a controlling interest in iQIYI.
Banning Alibaba’s cloud would not overly discomfort either US citizens or Alibaba, as the Chinese company has made no secret that it will prioritise Asian markets. ®