China on Saturday announced that it had carried out a measure that enables the country to ban foreign companies, a highly-expected action viewed as a form of retaliation to American restrictions against Chinese firms like telecom behemoth, Huawei.
The Ministry of Commerce's disclosure did not specify foreign groups but laid down the parameters that could set the stage for retributive measures, which could include prohibitions on export-import or investment in the mainland, as well as the entry of workers or hardware into China.
The news came a day following an announcement by the U.S. that it would restrict WeChat and TikTok from U.S. app shops starting Sunday. Beijing and Washington have been at loggerheads in a growing trade dispute that focuses on technology and other sensitive matters.
Existing customers will not be impacted by the order but will keep them from getting new updates. A deal that would enable Microsoft to manage and control TikTok's operations in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, and Australia recently hit a snag.
With a roughly 100 million fan base, TikTok is very in demand in the U.S., which has sparked worries among regulators and the Trump government over the likelihood of China getting its hands on user information.
After the Trump administration implemented more tariffs on Chinese products and restrictions on Huawei - the top supplier of telecoms networking hardware in the world - starting in 2019, Beijing vowed to create a list whose objective is to go after international companies the country considers as detrimental to China's sovereignty.
Government-controlled paper Global Times disclosed in May this year that the proposed "unreliable entities list" would aim at American firms like Apple, Qualcomm, and Cisco Systems while halting the acquisition of Boeing aircraft.
Chinese commerce officials divulged that if a group is suspected of infringing on the rules, an investigation would be conducted under directives from China's State Council. The foreign entity in question would be given due process as the council determines what violations the entity has committed.
But China pointed out that foreign entities could be omitted from the list if they rectify their conduct and initiate measures to remove the results of their actions.
On the other hand, Chinese companies that do business with the targeted entities also will be allowed to file for exemptions from any prohibition, as the U.S. policy allows.
For many years, Beijing has not been too friendly of major American tech giants -- Google, Facebook, and Twitter included - that hit has restricted them from doing business in its market.