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Chinese-American lawyers plan to sue US government on behalf of WeChat users

Both of the White House’s executive orders targeting ByteDance and WeChat will likely be challenged in court.

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A group of Chinese-American lawyers have formed an alliance to represent WeChat users in the United States, and plan to file a lawsuit to challenge one of US president Donald Trump’s executive orders that seek to ban transactions with WeChat and ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, from September 20 onward.

Called the US WeChat Users Alliance, the nonprofit group said Trump’s executive order targeting Tencent-owned super app WeChat violates the US constitution and the Administrative Procedure Act, according to a statement posted on the official WeChat account of Ying Cao Law LLC on Sunday.

The group plans to file its lawsuit by Tuesday, August 18.

Compared to apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, WeChat has a limited presence outside of China, but it is commonly used by the Chinese diaspora, and has been adopted by some commercial entities that do business with Chinese companies.

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Read this: ByteDance threatens to sue US government on ban ‘issued without any due process’

“It could have a tremendous impact on the lives and work of millions of Chinese in the US and other WeChat users, since WeChat is the most-used messaging app to contact family and friends back home. Individuals and enterprises that use WeChat to develop and retain connections with clients will also see massive financial loss,” reads the post by the alliance.

The executive order targeting transactions on WeChat levies stiff penalties, including a USD 300,000 fine for each violation, as well as other criminal charges according to the US government’s International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Notably, the alliance claims that it does not represent the interests of any government or Tencent Holdings (HKSE:0070). A Tencent spokesperson told local media on Friday that the company is reviewing the executive order.

ByteDance, on the other hand, is taking direct action to challenge the executive order targeting transactions on TikTok, its globally popular short video app.

ByteDance plans to file a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration in the US District Court for the Southern District of California as early as Tuesday. The lawsuit will argue that Trump’s action is unconstitutional because it failed to give the company a chance to respond, and that the US government’s invocation of national security for the order is baseless, NPR reported, citing a source directly involved in the lawsuit.