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Tencent says WeChat will struggle to attract new U.S. users while White House, courts spar over ban

Credit: REUTERS/FLORENCE LO

Chinese social media leader Tencent Holdings Ltd has said its WeChat may not be able to win new users in the United States while the White House challenges a court ruling preventing a ban on the messaging app.

HONG KONG, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Chinese social media leader Tencent Holdings Ltd 0700.HK has said its WeChat may not be able to win new users in the United States while the White House challenges a court ruling preventing a ban on the messaging app.

Tencent, in a statement filed at Hong Kong's stock exchange late on Sunday, said it has been evaluating the potential impact of a ban since the U.S. Department of Commerce on Friday issued an order to block WeChat downloads on national security grounds.

It also said routine updates of the app for existing U.S. users may be negatively affected should Apple Inc AAPL.O and Alphabet Inc's GOOGL.O Google remove WeChat from their stores.

WeChat has a relatively small user base in the United States compared with in China, where the app is ubiquitous.

On Sunday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler said a challenge to the proposed ban has "shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim" so "the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs' favor".

Tencent, which has denied being a security risk, said it has engaged and will continue to engage in discussions with the U.S. government and other stakeholders to resolve the matter.

(Reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

((Pei.Li@thomsonreuters.com; +852 64325868;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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