Donald Trump's executive order on Tencent Holdings turns up heat on video game industry

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      With a U.S. presidential election just 87 days away, Donald Trump appears to be pinning his reelection hopes on taking on China.

      On August 6, he issued an executive order "addressing the threat posed by WeChat", which is owned by the Chinese conglomerate Tencent Holdings Ltd.

      "WeChat, a messaging, social media, and electronic payment application owned by the Chinese company Tencent Holdings Ltd., reportedly has over one billion users worldwide, including users in the United States," Trump declared in the order.

      "Like TikTok, WeChat automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users," the president continued. "This data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information."

      The order declares that beginning in 45 days, any transaction with Tencent Holdings or any of its subsidiaries will be prohibited.

      This coincided with a separate executive order banning TikTok. It's a Chinese-owned video-sharing app used by around 100 million Americans.

      That's generated speculation that Trump's next target could be video games owned by Tencent Holdings.

      It's the world's largest video game publisher by revenue.

      Los Angeles Times reporter Sam Dean, on the other hand, insisted over Twitter that video games owned by Tencent will not be captured by the order.

      “White House official confirmed to the LA Times that the EO only blocks transactions related to WeChat,” Dean stated, not naming his source. “So Riot Games (League of Legends), Epic Games (Fortnite), et al are safe (pending updates)”.

      Tencent is an industry kingpin

      The Shenzhen-based company has a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, creator of Fortnite.

      In addition, Tencent Holdings owns Riot Games, which makes League of Legends.

      A recent report by TEO PC Games declared that League of Legends is the "most impactful" PC game in the world for the fifth straight quarter.

      Riot Games has three others in the top 15—Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:Go), Valorant, and Teamfight Tactics. 

      According to the Los Angeles Times, Tencent Holdings also owns five percent of video game giants Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft.

      Tencent Holdings has a market capitalization of about US$650 billion and it's listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 

      That makes it 10 times larger than Activision Blizzard, Sony, or Nintendo, though it's still dwarfed by Microsoft.

      In March, Tencent Holdings announced that it had purchased a 10 percent stake in Universal Music Group from Vivendi.

      The head office of Tencent Holdings is in the bustling southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
      Dmitry Lysenko

      TikTok prepares a lawsuit

      Meanwhile, TikTok's owner, Byte Dance, is planning legal action against the Trump Administration, possibly as early as Tuesday (August 11), according to NPR.

      Citing an unnamed source, NPR reported that the company will argue that the president's decision to base a ban on national security is "baseless".

      There's no word whether Tencent Holdings will join that court action. But it's been trying to brush up its image as a good corporate citizen.

      Earlier this year, Tencent Holdings established a US$100-million Global Anti-Pandemic Fund to help hospitals and health-care workers respond to COVID-19.

      This came in the wake of a US$211-million fund to address this issue in China.

      Tencent Holdings also helped launch the Global ESports Federation, which is based in Singapore.

      One of its vice presidents is Tencent Holdings vice president Cheng Wu.

      Another vice president is Vancouver’s Charmaine Crooks, an International Olympic Committee member.

      She was a silver medalist with Canada’s 4X400-metre relay team in the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games. Crooks chairs the federation’s Athletes and Players Commission.